Link(s) to the Alberta Health and Life Skills Curriculum Outcomes:
- W–7.5 relate the factors that influence individual food choices to nutritional needs of adolescents: e.g., finances, media, peer pressure, hunger, body image, activity
Brief Overview of the Lesson:
After reading an article about the importance of healthy food choices the class will be divided into groups to plan a week’s menu. They will see that the cost of fast foods versus home-made meals is much higher and not nearly as healthy.
Estimated Time Required for Implementation:
One class period
- Copy of the article provided on junk food
- Copies of the Meal Planning Chart
- Food flyers from grocery stores, access to online supermarket ads and fast food menus
Suggested Implementation Strategy:
- Use a smart board to post and to read the article called Junk food is poor fuel for your body.
- Ask the class if they have any idea how much their family spends on food during the week.
- Tell the class that they will be planning and estimating the cost of food.
- They will be comparing fast food menus to home-made menus.
- Depending on the class size, divide the class into 4–6 groups.
- Half of the groups will plan and budget the cost of fast food meals, the other half are to plan and budget the cost of home-made meals.
- They may use food flyers, online food ads, or fast food menus to help them estimate the cost of their meals.
- Allow time to compare and share their findings at the end of the period, or next period.
Options for Consideration:
- The teacher may want to allow students, for homework, to look up the cost of the foods and report back to their groups next period.
Extended Learning Opportunities:
- What can you do? Lobby your school cafeteria for healthier food choices. Ask them to include a range of low-price healthy food choices.
Junk Food is Poor Fuel for your Body
Good nutrition is essential for everyone, but it’s especially important for growing teenagers.
About 9 in 10 teenagers eat junk food every day. This might be fizzy drinks and high kilojoule snacks like potato chips. However, your body can’t run properly on inferior fuel. A teenager who eats fast food regularly is more likely to put on weight than a teenager who eats fast food only occasionally.
- A diet consisting of healthy meals and snacks will boost your intake of nutrients, such as calcium, which is required for strong bones.
- Eating well doesn’t mean you must be a health food freak—a good diet allows for your favourite junk foods occasionally.
While a mid-life heart attack might seem too far away to be real, it may surprise you to know that you could have health problems already. A poor diet can cause weight gain, high blood pressure, acne, constipation, and fatigue as well as concentration problems—even when you’re young.
Compared to home-cooked food, junk food (which includes fast food) is almost always:
- Higher in fat, particularly saturated fat
- Higher in salt
- Higher in sugar
- Lower in fibre
- Lower in nutrients such as calcium and iron
- Served in larger portions, which means more kilojoules
Compare the prices of junk foods against the prices of healthier food options to see that ‘healthy’ doesn’t have to mean ‘expensive’.