Metabolic Disease: Unit 1

What’s in your food?

This unit is intended to engage students with understanding what food is and what happens to it before it lands on our plates. Students start the unit by examining the industrial food chain and learning about the additives in food and what they’re for – are additives necessarily bad? Students then investigate the concept of nutritive value and the different components of food and what they’re for. This unit concludes with a lesson about the ‘MyPlate’ nutrition tracker, and students start their own food diaries that will accompany them throughout the module.

Lesson 1

What does ‘food’ mean?

We all have some idea of what food is, and we all have opinions about ‘good’ food and ‘bad’ food. But where do these opinions come from and are they justified by evidence? In this lesson we will begin to explore the questions of what food is, and what makes food healthy by looking at how our perceptions of food can be manipulated by the media. We will look more closely at the actual constituents of processed and unprocessed foods, and what constituents impact health.

Objectives – Introduction to the course and road-mapping.
– Some of the larger implications of the mass production of food.
Activities Watch a video summary of “Supersize me.”
Materials Printed materials:
– In-class worksheet
– HW worksheet
Homework Give examples of tangible and non-tangible elements of food. How do they contribute to whether a food is healthy?

Lesson 2

What’s in your food besides food?

In lesson 1 the students were asked to question their understanding of the different characteristics of food, and to begin to identify what kinds of ingredients processed foods contain. From their homework the students should arrive at the conclusion that foods often contain non-nutritive additives. Today will introduce the major food additives, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and GMO and ask students to consider their pros and cons. This lesson is intended to make students question more closely why additives are used. For example, additives can preserve food, reducing food waste and food cost, but they can also impact health and the environment.

Objectives – Be able to identify food additives.
– Describe the uses of pesticides, GMO, antibiotics, and hormones in food production.
– Describe the pros and cons of the above.
Activities Food additive matching game.
Materials Printed materials:
– Food additive matching game activity cards (alternative option)
– Food additive matching game worksheet (alternative option)
Homework Read six short cases and select one and take on their perspective to answer four questions.

Lesson 3

How clean is your food?

In Lesson 2 the students characterized food additives and investigated their pros and cons; today we will focus on how food can be contaminated by microbes or harmful chemicals. As we have seen, industrialized food production is vast and complex. Food can be contaminated with microbes or harmful chemicals at each stage of production: growth, harvest, processing, transport, sales, and preparation. We will use real cases of food-borne illness to illustrate the prevalence of contamination and wrap up by discussing methods of food handling that can prevent food-borne illness.

Objectives – Identify sources of contamination.
– Describe methods of safe food preparation.
Activities Jigsaw case studies of outbreaks of food-borne illness.
Materials Printed materials:
– In-class worksheet
– Case study readings
– HW worksheet
Homework Set up an account at Eat This Much and use the worksheet to track what you ate in your last three meals.

Lesson 4

Nutrients and the calorie: What food’s in your food (Part 1)?

This lesson marks a major transition from talking about the characteristics of food to the nutritional components of food. In this lesson the students will begin to explore the relationship between macronutrients and the calorie by completing a calorimetry lab. If your classroom is not equipped for the actual lab an alternative ‘virtual’ calorimetry lab can be found in the materials folder.

Objectives Explain how calories measure food energy
Activities Calorimetry Lab
Materials Printed materials:
– In-class worksheet
– In-class worksheet (alternative option)
Homework Complete the Calorimetry Lab worksheet.

Lesson 5

Nutrients and the calorie: What food’s in your food (Part 2)?

In this lesson we will continue discussing the characteristics of macro- and micro- nutrients found in food. The Do Now and Discussion expose student conceptions of macronutrients in common foods. We will then review and expand on student knowledge of macro- and micronutrients. A major point today is that macronutrients have a common structural pattern: they are polymers that can be broken into monomers. This is a key point that will reemerge during digestion. Note that an optional demonstration for this lesson is included in the materials folder.

Objectives – Describe the properties of the nutrients in foods: fiber, protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
– Explain that macronutrients are polymers that can be broken into monomers.
– Identify common micronutrients.
Activities Lecture/Discussion about macro- and micronutrients in food.
Materials Printed materials:
– In-class worksheet
– HW worksheet
Homework Complete the in-class worksheet and the pre-Lesson 2.1 homework.

Lesson 6

Nutrition and caloric needs are impacted by lifestyle

Students will use an online diet-tracking tool and three model characters with very different lifestyles to explore how these characters’ nutritional needs differ and why. This is the first lesson that introduces the idea that a person’s nutritional needs are related to their individual characteristics and especially their level of activity. The worksheet will also push students to understand the idea that food can be calorie rich but nutrient poor, a major factor linked to obesity.

Objectives – Be able to use the three character cases to make predictions about their nutritional needs.
– Give an example of a diet high in calories and low in nutrients.
– Recognize that caloric needs are impacted by lifestyle.
Activities Use the cases of three fictitious characters to see how dietary needs are related to lifestyle and how diets high in calories can be low in nutrients.
Materials Printed materials:
– In-class worksheet
– In-class handout
– HW worksheet
Homework – Adjust the characters’ diets to correct for any nutritional deficiencies.
– Begin keeping a food journal and conduct a nutritional analysis on your own 7-day profile.

Teacher Prep: Unit 1 Lesson Overview Videos

In the YouTube embed below, click the order listing in the upper right to toggle the display for the full playlist.