Saturday, May 8, 2010

Battle of the Bulge

Childhood obesity has become a major concern for nations worldwide. According to a recent report, the percentage of obese or overweight U.S. children is at or above 30% in 30 states. Childhood obesity rates in Canada have nearly tripled in the last 25 years, while in Europe, one in five children is either overweight or obese. In an attempt to curb the battle of the bulge, Massachusetts, Arkansas, and New York City all now require schools to calculate students’ BMI (Body Mass Index) to determine obesity. Many schools have completely revamped their cafeteria offerings, and booted vending machines from their campuses. These are steps in the right direction, but developing healthy eating habits is a life skill that students need to hone both at home and in the classroom.

We all know that good nutrition is vital for good health and ample energy, and that maintaining a proper weight helps prevent conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and other ailments. Getting students to buy into healthy eating, though, can be a challenge. If your students are like my kids, their idea of “good” nutrition is food that is individually wrapped and artificially flavored. They need to be made consistently aware that making healthy choices pays rich dividends in increased energy and good health now and in the future.

This week’s picks are from Nourish Interactive and PE Central, two organizations that focus on educational materials relating to student health. Nourish Interactive, Inc. is dedicated to educating children about the importance of nutrition and exercise. To this end, the organization offers fun, innovative games and online tools that help empower kids to make healthy choices. In addition to lesson plans and interactive nutrition games, Nourish Interactive offers printable worksheets on healthy eating for teachers and parents. PE Central is a Web site devoted to providing the latest information about developmentally appropriate physical education programs for children and youth. The site is aimed at health and physical education teachers, parents, and students.

BMI for Kids – Body Mass Index
Subjects: Nutrition, Health
Grade: K-5
Using an online BMI (Body Mass Index) calculator, students learn about how a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition keeps their bodies healthy. While students do not see an actual number or percentage for their entered data, they do see the animated characters get taller or smaller with different weight and height data, and hear a positive message promoting daily exercise and healthy eating. The lesson includes a link to view the materials in Spanish.

Bon Appetite Arcade
Subjects: Nutrition, Health
Grade: 2-5
This timed activity presents a fun arcade game that requires students to use the computer mouse to shoot forks at food items in order to create balanced meals and score points. The lesson includes a link to view the materials in Spanish.

Reading Labels: Which Snack is the Best Choice?
Subjects: Health, Nutrition
Grade: 9-12
This activity teaches students how to determine the nutritional information in snacks. Students identify different parts of labels, and compare the nutritional value in a variety of snacks.

~Joann's Picks - 5/8/2010~

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