Finally! A High School Class Rooted in Reality

Posted: October 27, 2011 in Articles

It's a well-known fact that the number of hours you spend in front of the TV directly affects your waistline... for more reasons than one.

I did something I seldom do these days—I sifted through the Health section of the New York Times (this is a sad confession since I love to read and write). There was an article published in the yesterday titled “In High Schools, a Critical Lens on Food.” Intrigued, I read it. And I. Am. Excited! Finally! Some progress in high schools in regards to food health. I seriously couldn’t be more excited about something right now (okay, that’s a lie… I am pretty excited about a few things right now, including my friend’s awesome band.)

Sorry, had to plug that in.

The article! To summarize, 15 city high schools in New York are incorporating a new program with a curriculum that revolves around the health and science behind the food industry and the food advertising business. The curriculum was created by a nonprofit group called FoodFight, and their message is simple (and makes me head-over-heels for this group, despite just learning about them): “Using schools as a platform, our goal is to revolutionize the way teens think about food and its impact on their lives.”

The sad fact is that one estimate reveals that 35 percent of adolescents in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Thus, the lesson plan blends media literacy, politics, nutrition, and cooking to help kids become aware that the food industry is targeting them specifically with unhealthy advertisements.

The good news? Not only are students learning about the facts in a non-preachy fashion, but they have discussions about what’s really going on—that they’re being “played” by big corporations, what food companies really do to and with food (enter the movie “Food, Inc.”), why some neighborhoods lack access to healthy, affordable food, and how lobbyists try to influence federal dietary recommendations. Students are asked to keep a food journal as data to analyze the effects that these companies have on their eating habits. Sure enough, kids are becoming outraged and some are taking a stand for themselves in the name of health. Cutting back on pop, upping their water intake, starting to eat breakfast, consuming smaller meals, and asking their parents to stop buying meat from industrial producers are just a few of the ways students are fighting back.

All I have to say is MAJOR FIST-PUMP FOR FOODFIGHT! Seriously, why aren’t these classes being taught in all schools to all ages (elementary through college)? I stand by the fact that real world issues classes are the most impactful when it comes to kids. I’m not saying stop teaching math and science and reading, but we need kids to learn the truth about health and the industry today more than ever. These kids will be adults before we know it and how many adults look back and wish they would have paid more attention to their health and what they consumed? Because let’s face it, by the time you’re an adult, you’re already pretty brainwashed.

The fact that 35 percent of adolescents are overweight or obese hurts my heart. And honestly, this is one of the main reasons I am passionate about devoting more of time in the fitness industry. I know what it’s like to be a nervous, self-conscious teenager (who doesn’t!?) and all I want to do is teach kids that you don’t have to be crazy about it, but you do have a choice in all things, from cheeseburgers and carrot sticks to biking to the beach and running on the treadmill. I wanted to be a teacher from 3rd grade through my junior year of college when I realized that wasn’t my true calling. However, I am a firm believer that fitness is God’s way of making me a teacher… and I’m okay with it 🙂

So what do you think about this article? Do you think it’s a good idea to teach kids about the health and food industry in college? Did you ever learn anything like this in high school?

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