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Teach kids how foods affect them

5. fat in chicken nuggets etc-3

“I think I’m going to cry,” East Bank Middle School seventh-grader Kaylee Hull said as the health teacher showed her how much fat is in six chicken nuggets.

How can we teach young people what fast foods do to their bodies?

Get on your local school wellness committee!  If they don’t have one, federal law requires them to have one (see below). Ask them to start one.

Use health class to teach nutrition: Every school is required to have health class, but as of winter 2014, there was no required curriculum.

Use health class to find creative ways to encourage healthy lifestyles: At Winfield High School, students produced a musical video about healthy eating and put it on YouTube. (Watch it below. It’s great.)

Show them firsthand: At Charleston’s Mary Snow West Side Elementary, fifth-graders gaped as the school nurse showed them how much sugar is in a two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew.


Nurse Janet Alio has fifth-graders’ attention at Charleston’s West Side Mary C. Snow School, as she measures out more than 50 teaspoons of sugar in a one-liter bottle of Mountain Dew. Photo: Kate Long

Does your school health class alert kids to the fact that food marketing often makes them crave foods that are bad for their bodies?  Are they learning about the impact of fat, sugar, etc. on energy level, performance, and obesity?

One in five West Virginia eleven-year-olds has high blood pressure, according to 2012 WVU measurements. One in four have abnormal cholesterol. One in three is obese. About one in six kindergartners arrives at school already obese.

Diet and exercise have a lot to do with that. Under WV law, each school can now choose how they teach health. There are goals, but no curriculum: a destination, but no roadmap. Some schools do a lot. Some do almost nothing.

The state Office of Child Nutrtition can make school food more nutritious, said state nutrition director Kristi Blower, “but we won’t really succeed until students know how to make good choices on their own. And nobody has authority to oversee that part of the curriculum.”

Nobody knows how many schools actually meet the state nutrition goals.  Parents can change that.



Winfield High School health teacher / coach Brittany Good took creative approaches to health class and nutrition education.  Her students got national recognition for this 2012 video.



How can parents help schools teach kids about nutrition?


Collect examples of good programs your school could draw from:          

Ruffner Elementary-5

Grade-schoolers at Ruffner Elementary in Charleston in a session about TV ads that try to sell them junk food. Their classmates had just put on a play as part of the Kidz Bite Back program. (photo, Kate Long)

Learning about food while growing food:


The Charleston Power’s mascot visiting grade-school classrooms to promote a message of healthy eating: 5 servings of vegetables or fruit, no more than 2 hours of screen time, an hour of physical activity, and no soda. Photo, courtesy The Power.


Have something to add? Write it in “comments” below, with your contact info, in case we have questions.


  1. Hi there! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche.
    Your blog provided us valuable information to
    work on. You have done a outstanding job!

    • Thank you Lauren, we hope to see you at this year’s Try This conference It will be a great opportunity for you and your members to network with like-minded individuals from all over WV, enjoy how-to workshops for project ideas, and be able to apply for a mini-grant for your groups projects.


  1. What are your community’s next steps? | Try This - […] Teach kids nutrition: how to make healthy food choices […]

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