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Disney, New York City Push for Healthful Eating



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    Grades 2-up

    News Content

    Many companies, and at least one city, aim to help solve Americas obesity problem.

    Anticipation Guide

    Before reading, create on a sheet of chart paper or a whiteboard a two-column graphic organizer. Label one column Nutritious Foods and the other one Not Nutritious Foods. Invite students to add foods to either column. When you have about ten foods in each column, discuss what kinds of foods tend to fall into the two categories. Ask: What makes foods nutritious or not nutritious?

    News Words

    Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: companies, packages, calories, restaurant, characters, and sugary. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • Did you know that a small bag of chips has more than 200 _____ in it? (calories)
  • Which of the main _____ in the book was your favorite? (characters)
  • My mother wont let me eat sweet _____ snacks before dinner. (sugary)
  • In order to pay for the fireworks display, the mayor asked local _____ to contribute $1,000 apiece. (companies)
  • Barbara bought five _____ of cake mix to make the huge wedding cake. (packages)
  • On my birthday, my parents took me out to eat at my favorite _____. (restaurant)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this week's news story Disney, New York City Push for Healthful Eating.

    Reading the News

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    * Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

    * Students might first read the news story to themselves; then call on individual students to read the news aloud for the class.

    * Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write a note in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • According to the American Obesity Association, more than 15 percent of children ages 6 to 19 are obese.
  • Many health experts say that popular cartoon characters are partially to blame for Americas obesity problem. Thats why the Walt Disney Company recently announced new guidelines that limit use of its characters on food and snack products. Snacks that get more than 35 percent of their calories from fat, or more than 25 percent of their calories from sugar, will be off limits. The changes will take effect by the end of 2008. (Disney has some contracts with food companies that will prevent making the change complete before then.)
  • At its theme parks, Disney will cut trans fats out of meals by the end of 2007. The company also will replace soda with low-fat milk or 100 percent fruit juice, and french fries will be replaced with items such as applesauce and carrot sticks.
  • Disney is not the only company that is jumping on the healthful-foods bandwagon. Nickelodeons SpongeBob SquarePants, for example, is now being used to advertise spinach.
  • Trans fats, short for trans-fatty acids, are chemically modified ingredients. They are created by injecting hydrogen into oils. Such hydrogenated oils are often used to extend the shelf life of baked goods, including cookies and crackers, fried foods, salad dressings, margarine, and other foods.
  • Last April, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, published research that indicated that at least 6 percent of the U.S. deaths from heart attacks can be attributed to consumption of trans fats.
  • In New York City, proposed regulations would limit trans fats in foods served in restaurants. At a recent public hearing about the proposed regulations, 54 people rose to speak. The number of speakers in favor of the new regulations far outnumbered the opponents. "We regulate alcohol, we regulate tobacco, and this is no different, City Council member Peter F. Vallone Jr. told the New York Times. Another speaker said, "This is a no-brainer to protect the public.
  • Others are speaking up against the proposed rules. Some restaurant owners say the regulations are impractical and unfair. Others say that local government should not be telling city residents what they can and can't eat. Some restaurant owners say they are not so much against the new rules as they are against the speed with which they will be enforced. One food bank official said the new rules could cut a large part of its food-bank supplies.
  • Some nutrition experts worry that adding the "trans-fat free" label to packages and restaurant foods might give the wrong impression. "Eating too much food that's fried in oil, even if it's trans-fat free, can lead to obesity, which also contributes to heart disease," Dr. Robert Eckel, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, told Business Week. Dr. Eckel is the former president of the American Heart Association.
  • Effective January 1, 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required food companies to list trans fat on the Nutrition Facts panel of all packaged foods. Health experts say people should read those labels and choose foods with lower levels of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
  • The announcement that KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken) will eliminate trans fats from its cooking oil by next April is likely to put more pressure on companies that make and distribute cooking oils. They will need to produce more oils low in trans fat in order to meet the demand. KFC will use a trans fat-free soybean oil. Palm and cottonseed oils have also been developed with the anti-trans fat trend in mind.

    Comprehension Check

    Revisit the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson; ask students to identify anything new they learned about what makes some foods more nutritious than others. They should share that they learned about a new kind of fat, trans fat, that could be a cause of obesity and heart disease.

    You might follow-up that activity by asking some of these questions:

    Recalling Detail

  • Why did the Disney Company choose to take its characters off packages of junk food? (They dont want to do anything to attract kids to junky foods; they are worried about the worlds growing obesity problem.)
  • Why do some companies and restaurants use trans fats in the food they sell? (Trans fats help foods stay fresh longer; some people say they make foods taste better.)
  • In what kinds of foods can trans fats be found? (Trans fats can be found in some cookies, doughnuts, fried foods, and others.)
  • Why are some companies and restaurants trying to use less trans fat? (Trans fats cause heart disease; most people dont know how much trans fat is in the foods they eat.)

    Think About the News
    Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page. You might make a two-column graphic organizer to aid in the discussion. Label one column Agree and the other column Disagree. Add students thoughts to the appropriate column as they offer them.

    In addition, you might discuss this question: Imagine you are going to talk to New York City officials about eliminating trans fat from restaurant foods. Are you in favor or against the idea? Share reasons for your position.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Language arts/persuasive writing. Challenge students to write a persuasive essay that answers the question posed in the Think About the News question on the students printable news page. Students might use some of the ideas generated for the class-discussion chart (see Think About the News above) to help them make their case.

    Science and nutrition. How many calories do you burn in a day? The Metabolism Calculator will help you figure that out. If you use this online tool with young students, you will need to set the age on the calculator at 11 years.

    Health/math. Use a projector to display this Total Fat chart (scroll down that page for the chart), or print it and display it in a learning center set up for students. Ask grade-appropriate questions about the chart. For example:

  • How many grams of trans fat are in a medium serving of french fries? (8 grams)
  • Is there more trans fat in a small bag of chips or a doughnut? (a doughnut)
  • How many more grams of trans fat are in the doughnut? (2 grams)
  • Does a serving of pound cake have more or less than 3 grams of trans fat? (more)
  • Which has more trans fat -- butter or margarine? (margarine)
  • How many more grams of trans fat are in the margarine? (3 grams)
  • Which has more trans fat -- a small bag of chips or a serving of french fries? (french fries)
  • How many more grams of trans fat are in the french fries? (5 grams)

    Art. Have students create posters that promote good nutrition. Display the posters in the school cafeteria.


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.2Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.3Evaluation Strategies
    NL-ENG.K-12.4Communication Skills
    NL-ENG.K-12.5Communication Strategies
    NL-ENG.K-12.6Applying Knowledge
    NL-ENG.K-12.7Evaluating Data
    NL-ENG.K-12.12Applying Language Skills

    MATHEMATICS: Number and Operations
    GRADES Pre-K - 2
    NM-NUM.PK-2.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates
    GRADES 3 - 5
    NM-NUM.3-5.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates
    GRADES 6 - 8
    NM-NUM.6-8.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NM-NUM.9-12.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates

    GRADES K - 4
    NPH-H.K-4.1 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
    NPH-H.K-4.2 Health Information, Products and Services
    NPH-H.K-4.3 Reducing Health Risks
    NPH-H.K-4.4 Health Influences
    NPH-H.K-4.5 Using Communication Skills to Promote Health
    NPH-H.K-4.6 Setting Goals for Good Health
    NPH-H.K-4.7 Health Advocacy
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NPH-H.5-8.1 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
    NPH-H.5-8.2 Health Information, Products and Services
    NPH-H.5-8.3 Reducing Health Risks
    NPH-H.5-8.4 Health Influences
    NPH-H.5-8.5 Using Communication Skills to Promote Health
    NPH-H.5-8.6 Setting Goals for Good Health
    NPH-H.5-8.7 Health Advocacy
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NPH-H.9-12.1 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
    NPH-H.9-12.2 Health Information, Products and Services
    NPH-H.9-12.3 Reducing Health Risks
    NPH-H.9-12.4 Health Influences
    NPH-H.9-12.5 Using Communication Skills to Promote Health
    NPH-H.9-12.6 Setting Goals for Good Health
    NPH-H.9-12.7 Health Advocacy

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2006 Education World