How to Teach Students About Sugar & Nutrition

teach students sugarOne day I was looking at the sugar amount in our chocolate milk and the fruit juice that our cafeteria is offering. Both drinks contain 24 grams and 28 grams of sugar, totaling 52 grams. This total is 5 grams more than the daily allotment for the entire day that children should have, which is outrageous!

So, I used our Fuel Up Play 60 grant for Nutrition and Fitness to show the amount of sugar in beverages and food that students digest. We chose fifteen different drinks and food items. We also had a guest speaker on nutrition to show the effects of sugar on the human body. All K-5 grades had to attend our Physical Education Nutrition Presentation for this day, as many as four classes at once.

Sugar & Nutrition Awareness Day

I asked eight of our 6th-8th grade students who want to be teachers someday to prepare a visual presentation on sugar effects on the human body. One group did teeth and proper brushing and tooth decay, complete with the big teeth and tooth brush! A second group did a presentation and a visual with the topic of diabetes with role playing. The third group did a wonderful presentation on the effects of sugar on the brain. There were pictures of the brain and highlights of activity. The fourth group did sugar in everyday meals and snacks. Finally the fifth station was our nutritionist Alisha Chasy from on a sugar free soft drink with no carbs, called Zevia soft drink.

teach students sugar

We showed a quick Powerpoint to all of the students from each grade, and then they were previously given a number or a color to designate a group. Each group was assigned to a teaching station set up in the gym with a table and fifteen chairs in two rows. Each table had healthy snacks on it and not so healthy snacks as a display. The master tables had items displayed that were consumed daily, mostly from the cafeteria and favorite juices. There was a bag of sugar in front of each drink or food to depict the amount of sugar in it. Remember, one teaspoon of granulated sugar for every five grams of sugar on the food label. There is so much information to teach on this topic and so many projects on nutrition. We also offered taste testing of snacks with less than 8 grams of sugar for each student!

sugar nutrition activity

This was an outstanding day or learning, and our school has made some changes because of it. We now provide eight cases of white milk instead of two as in the past, and seven cases of chocolate milk instead of fourteen. Currently, we are try to replace the fruit juice concentrate (28 grams of sugar) with sparkling fruit flavored water, with only 1 or 0 grams of sugar. The recommended daily allowance of sugar is 48 grams, while the present daily average consumption is 220 grams!

sugar students

With many students in the U.S. struggling with obesity, it’s important to make these changes and provide students with healthier options. We as teachers need to continuosuly talk to our students about nutrition. I go into the cafeteria and kids either hide the chocolate milk or raise the white milk to show they are proud of what they are drinking and their healthy choice.

What can you do to help keep our children healthy and fight obesity?

About the Author:

Let's Move! Active Schools PE teacherJim Segar started teaching in Vermont in 1977 at U-32 Jr.-Sr. High School, and retired after 31 years in coaching and physical education. He coached Ice Hockey, Boys and Girls Lacrosse, Soccer and Track. Jim took his hockey teams to Finland twice. He was Vermont’s Physical Education Teacher of the Year in 2003 and Vermont President of VAHPERD in 2005. In 2008, Jim worked for FEMA (Homeland Security) and was involved in several disaster recoveries. He was hired as Assistant Principal at Poston Butte High School in San Tan Valley, Arizona in 2009 and is now teaching physical education in the same Florence District at Circle Cross Ranch K-8. Jim is also the CCR Teacher of the Year or 2016. Visit their school website here. Jim has been teaching for 38 years and loves it! Email: [email protected]

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