Sunday, January 24, 2010

Inquiry-based Lesson Evaluation - Fast Food Dieting

Since I was thinking of addressing the Fast Food dieting sensation that is all over the television these days, I chose to evaluate websites related to proper nutrition and the daily requirements necessary for good eating habits.

Finding Webquests that addressed nutrition varied greatly in what was being asked. Some simply had the students looking up what the nutritional guidelines were and what food groups fit into these areas. For example, it is evident that a Fast Food salad from Mc Donald’s is a better choice than the Taco Salad from Taco Bell. While both salads have lettuce, it is the extras that quickly make the salad cross over from a healthy choice to one that contains so many extra calories, not necessarily all good for you.

Healthiest Fast Foods,, presented a task for students to write a feature article for a newspaper and suggest ways in which people could develop healthier eating habits. Comparing various food items from four different fast food restaurants, students created graphs and analyzed the data to determine what restaurant would provide the healthiest meal.

This Webquest provided many options for the students in choosing the meals and the restaurants. It may open up their eyes to see that a healthy meal can be found at many fast food restaurants. Portion size is also a big consideration considering that, as a nation, we are becoming one of the largest, and I don’t mean in population. As the lifestyles of many become more sedentary, it is important to look at what we are consuming in order to stop this trend.

In contrast, Nutrition Mission,, provides students with the task of developing a healthy meal plan for two fictitious characters. This Webquest provided various missions based on different criteria, such as eating at a fast food restaurant or choosing unhealthy snacks. The creator was rather ingenious in the images of the two people and how they changed after following a healthy meal plan. Unfortunately, many of the links were not functioning (the Webquest was developed in 2005) and a rubric was not provided to determine the expectations of the students.

Both of these Webquests are inquiry based and provide the students to make decisions and ask questions about the topic, which is essential to develop higher order thinking skills.

Personally, I find the claims on the television to be rather unbelievable. While I do think there are ways to lose weight eating fast food, it is only one part of the equation. It is important to incorporate exercise and adequate rest as well. In researching these diets, the people involved simply reduced their daily caloric intake which will always lead to a weight loss. I find it hard to actually believe that someone can eat only fast food from a single restaurant and meet the daily nutritional requirements needed in a healthy diet. Plus, I love the disclaimer that these results are not typical.


barky1777 said...

Alas, there goes my Taco Bell diet :) Both of the webquests sited seemed to be aiming for student involvement and active participation. Even with that, is this a topic that students immediately buy into or is this something that we may have to create more of an interest in with other activities (as could be the case with any subject)? I know, for example, that our health teacher/district spends a great deal of time discussing and working with this exact concept with elementary school students; but outside of health class, no actual change is being made in their lifestyle activities. Is this something to be considered in all webquest activites, whether or not it actually impacts student's lives or is that a problem for all subject areas?

Alice Hartel said...

You have brought up some very Interesting comments. I, too, wonder if spending the time we do to create really engaging lessons will make the impact we are looking for once the project is finished or do students just do the project for the sake of completion. I would hope that the project would present additional questions and, possibly, life style changes. I know that in my school district, students must bring only healthy snacks and the students will tell the teacher if another student is not following the guidelines. As with most things taught in school, we do the best we can everyday and try the hardest we can to make the difference in the life of our students.