High blood pressure, sleep apnea, depression, diabetes, and orthopedic problems—these are just some of the difficulties faced by the estimated 9 million children in the United States age 6 or older who are significantly overweight. In the last four years, the obesity rate has doubled for teenagers and tripled for younger children. Many are calling it an epidemic.
A new EDC curriculum, Getting Active and Eating Well, combines reading and health to arm middle-grades students with knowledge about eating right and getting exercise.
The underlying causes of obesity are influenced by a number of factors, including behavior, genetics, environment, and culture. According to an Institute of Medicine report, more than 30 percent of the calories in an average child’s diet come from sweets, soft drinks, salty snacks, and fast food.
“We hope students take steps to eat more nutritiously and get more regular physical activity with the idea that both these things are fun—that it’s seen as both doable and enjoyable,” says EDC’s Chris Blaber, project co-director.
Through a blend of literacy and health education, young people not only learn about food, nutrition, and exercise, “they also develop and practice critical literacy skills for reading and writing,” says co-director Leslie Hergert.
Divided into four units, the curriculum is ideal for health education, and family and consumer sciences classes. Three units also meet curriculum standards in other subject areas, including social studies, science, and physical education, providing rich opportunities for interdisciplinary instruction. For instance, a P.E. teacher can use “Moving for Health” while a social studies teacher uses “Healthy Eating Around the World,” a reading teacher uses “Influences on Food Choices,” and a health education teacher uses “Setting and Reaching Goals.”
Getting Active and Eating Well is part of the Read for Health series, funded by MetLife Foundation. Drawing on EDC’s Supported Literacy™ program, it contributes to EDC’s Teenage Health Teaching Modules (THTM), a comprehensive school health education curriculum for grades 6–12.
Originally published on January 1, 2008