Get Educated During Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Twenty-three million American kids are overweight and at risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke during childhood.

By Jen Lilienstein

fruits and vegetables

Every September since 2010, Childhood Obesity Awareness Month has given pediatricians, teachers, government officials, and parents the opportunity to raise awareness of just how deadly this epidemic is, and how we can help to tackle the problem.

Alarming statistics:

  • Obesity rates have tripled in the past decade.
  • The generation that is currently in school actually has a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
  • One in three American children are overweight, or obese—that’s more than 23 million children.
  • One in three Americans born in the 21st Century are expected to develop type 2 diabetes during their lives.
  • Nearly a third of America’s children are at risk not only for type 2 diabetes, but high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke during childhood.

It seems that, while everyone has been trying to figure out how to fix the problem both globally and locally, many parents still aren’t instilling good habits at home. As a result, educators need to help make sure kids get a robust enough health education during the school day that they think twice before picking up that soda, bag of chips, or carton of ice cream.

Luckily, we can provide our pupils with hands-on approaches to healthier lifestyles that are integrated with Common Core. Here are just a few ideas of how you could incorporate health education into your curriculum during the year ahead.

Applied Science

One of the leading contributors to the obesity epidemic stems from the fact that 40% of every dollar spent on food in America is spent on food prepared outside the home. By using food preparation as an applied science, children can not only learn more about how to prepare healthy meals and snacks, but also mix in science and math skill building. These types of lessons can be of critical importance to latchkey children, in particular, who may not know how to whip up healthy snacks for themselves or for their siblings after school.


Talk about eating a variety of proteins and grains, and a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Then have your pupils create a weekly chart or graph of food types to include in their menus. Scholars can chart what they eat at meals during the week, then compare and contrast the recommended amounts versus actual amounts at both individual student and class levels.

Language Arts

Have your learners conduct web-based research to discover the most effective healthy habits, based on scientific studies. Then, have the class create healthy habit surveys from their research to judge the health awareness of students in different ages and classrooms. Finally, have each pupil or student group craft informational or opinion pieces for a school newsletter or TV show based on insights from the surveys.

Higher Test Scores through Physical Activity

We all know that physical activity improves fitness and lowers the risk of obesity. But what people often forget is that there is plenty of research showing that schools that made time for physical activity often performed better on standardized tests. In fact, short physical activity breaks in the classroom were shown to improve attention span and classroom behavior as well. Make sure that the children in your class are aware of these studies and encourage them to not only work hard, but also to play hard in order to keep their minds sharp.

Additional Lesson Planet Resources:

BMI: Body Mass Indicator – Grades 3-6

Learners discover their body weight and composition. They will use a body mass indicator to identify their percentage of body fat, then develop an exercise plan and record progress throughout a month.

The Heart of the Matter – Grades 6-8

Scholars discuss the importance of heart fitness, research essential questions relating to teen fitness, practice using heart-rate monitors daily, collect and record information, and analyze information at end of the quarter to determine whether their fitness has improved.

You Are What You Eat – Grades 5-8

Learners gain an enhanced understanding of the relationship between proper nutrition and good health. Throughuse of video, hands-on activities, and interaction, they measure energy in food and recognize sources of vitamins and minerals.

Energy In: Everyday Healthy Foods – Grade 4

Pupils discover how much energy different foods give our bodies. Fourth graders perform an experiment on two different foods, then determine which food gives us the most energy. Scholars read food labels and compare and contrast the nutrition value for each food. This resource can be adapted for other grade levels.