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Lessons > Middle School > Nutrition & Physical Activity
Nutrition & Physical Activity

19 Lessons


This informational lesson introduces the topic of nutrition and covers the main nutrients needed for health. Students first discuss where to find information about nutrition and physical activity and how to identify reliable sources. Then they read about the 6 nutrients and identify key facts about each one.


This informational lesson introduces food groups and the recommended daily amounts teens should eat from each food group. Students learn about MyPlate and the various food groups. Then they see a demonstration of recommended serving amounts from each group.


This lesson introduces the federal guidelines for healthy eating. Students assess their eating habits against these guidelines and make suggestions for improvement. Then they analyze a day’s sample menu for a middle school student and make recommendations for improving nutrition and bringing the meals into alignment with the federal dietary guidelines for healthy eating.


In this lesson, students learn how to use food labels to help them make healthy choices. They review the information contained on the label and practice reading a sample label. Then they work with a partner to analyze and compare the food labels they brought from home and determine which food is the healthier choice.


In this lesson, students learn the importance of eating a healthy breakfast. After a demonstration to illustrate how breakfast supplies important fuel for the body, they brainstorm benefits of breakfast. Then they review and discuss healthy breakfast guidelines and evaluate favorite breakfast foods. They complete an activity sheet to test what they’ve learned, then work with a partner to create a list of tips to help people eat breakfast every day.


This lesson presents guidelines for healthy snacking. Students learn the characteristics of a healthy snack and why healthy snacking is important. They work with a partner and play a game to brainstorm and evaluate examples of healthy snacks, then create a commercial to convince peers to eat a particular healthy snack food.


In this lesson, students learn how to make healthier choices at fast-food restaurants and when dining out. Students discuss some of the challenges fast foods pose to eating healthy, including excess calories, fat and sodium. Then they analyze typical fast-food meals for these elements. After brainstorming ways to make healthier choices in fast-food restaurants, they analyze meals with healthier options and discuss what made these a better choice.


This lesson teaches about food-borne illness and strategies for keeping foods safe to eat. Students learn steps to take to keep food safe, including a hand-washing demonstration and practice. Then they read a story about a middle school student who gets food poisoning and analyze all of the points in the story where proper safety measures weren’t followed.


In this lesson, students learn to analyze influences on their food choices, including the effects of advertising. They review their food diaries to identify factors that affected their eating habits. Then they focus on the effects of advertising by identifying examples of different food advertising techniques and examining how these affect people’s food choices.


This skills-based lesson helps students learn refusal skills to resist pressure to eat less- nutritious foods. After discussing how peer pressure can affect food choices, students examine pressure lines friends may use to encourage them to eat less nutritiously. They learn effective words and actions to say NO to unhealthy food choices, and then practice their refusal skills in simple roleplays related to various food pressure scenarios.


This lesson examines the importance of a positive body image. Students learn the definition of body image and discuss factors that can influence how people view their bodies. They examine media messages about body image and appearance and analyze how these can affect body image. Then they explore steps to help build a positive body image.


This lesson examines the dangers of dieting and teaches about healthy ways to handle weight issues. Students discuss ways people attempt to lose or control weight, and the potential problems with dieting. Then they examine healthy ways to manage weight, including balancing food intake with physical activity. A take-home assignment encourages students to talk with their families about the dangers of dieting or trying to control weight through unhealthy means.


This lesson informs students about disordered eating and eating disorders. Students read about common eating disorders, and discuss symptoms as well as consequences. Then they learn steps to take to help someone with disordered eating or an eating disorder and where to go for help for themselves or a friend. They work in small groups to identify the signs and symptoms of disordered eating in different scenarios and the potential health consequences.


This lesson introduces guidelines for physical activity. Students brainstorm a list of ways to be physically active, and learn the federal guidelines for physical activity for teens. They examine the list of activities and identify examples as they learn about different components of fitness, including cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength and bone strength. Then they discuss ways to add physical activity to their day without special equipment or a structured plan. They assess their own physical activity habits against the guidelines, and analyze a middle school student’s sample physical activities for the week.


In this lesson, students learn about safe ways to be physically active. They review the physical, mental/emotional and social benefits of exercise, including how an active lifestyle can help prevent chronic disease. Then they explore guidelines for exercising safely, including wearing safety gear and dressing appropriately for the climate, drinking plenty of water, and warming up before and cooling down after activity.


In this skills-based lesson, students learn about goal setting. The teacher reviews a series of questions to use in setting a goal, and students practice the steps using a sample goal. Then they review their earlier self-assessments and choose a healthy eating or physical activity behavior to work on. They set a specific goal in the area they choose and create a plan to reach it.


In this skills-based lesson, students practice goal-setting and self-management skills as they track weekly progress toward their healthy eating and physical activity goals. They review two sample plans as examples of how to monitor their goals, then complete brief daily reports and a weekly assessment of their progress each week.


This culminating activity assesses student learning for the unit through a written exam.


In this culminating activity, small groups of students use a talk show format to share accurate, reliable information about nutrition and physical activity, discuss influences on eating and physical activity habits, advocate for teens to practice healthier eating habits and be physically active, and discuss how goal setting skills can be applied to promote healthy eating and physical activity behaviors. Students work cooperatively in their groups to review and research information about nutrition and physical activity needed for their roles in the talk show, and to develop questions for the interviews. Then groups present their talk shows, and students evaluate each group’s presentation.