ACTE November/December2011 : Page 52

Fea ture By Melinda Anderson and Melinda Swafford Hydroponic Garden Promotes Hands-on Learning, Healthy Eating “THE PROJECT DESCRIBED IN THIS ARTICLE PROVIDED AN OPPORTUNITY FOR EDUCATORS IN GREENHOUSE MANAGEMENT, NUTRITION AND FOODS, AND FAMILY AND CONSUMER SCIENCES TO ALIGN COURSE StANDARDS AND CURRICULUM WHILE COLLABORAtING ON pLANS tO ADDRESS tHE pROBLEM OF OBESIty IN tHE LOCAL SCHOOL AND COMMUNIty.” PHOTO BY ISTOCK.COM t HE CARL D. pERkINS CAREER tECHNICAL Improve-ment Act of 2006 encourages integration of academic instruction to improve student learning, impact employ-ment skills of students, and enhance prob-lem-solving skills by using authentic real-world situations. Academic integration is accomplished by integrating concepts of English, math, science, technology, etc., into career and technical education (CTE) course content, or by two teachers from different content areas collaborating to align and team-teach course standards. The project described in this article provided an opportunity for educators in Greenhouse Management, Nutrition and Foods, and Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) to align course standards and curriculum while collaborating on plans to address the problem of obesity in the local school and community. Factors Affecting obesity and Food choices Obesity is a national public health con-cern that results in a reduced quality of life, as evidenced from the increased risk of developing heart disease, hyperten-sion, and type 2 diabetes. Data from the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutri-tion Examination Survey (NHANES) revealed that an estimated 17 percent of adolescents (ages 12-19) are obese (Ogden and Carroll, 2010). A variety of environ-mental, genetic, physiologic, metabolic, behavioral and psychological factors are known to influence obesity; therefore efforts to prevent and treat obesity are also complex. A key factor in preventing obesity is understanding how individu-als make food choices. Pollard, Kirk and Cade (2002) described a food choice framework that included such factors as: food availability, sensory appeal, habits and culture, social interaction, media and advertising, and health knowledge. One method of understanding food choices is to look at the frequency of certain foods eaten. Diets that are low in fruits have been linked to a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) in both children and adults (Lin and Morrison, 2002). Con-versely, diets high in fruit and vegetable intake have been linked to decreased risk of chronic disease (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS], 2005). The role of fruits and vegetables in improving health status and maintenance of a healthy weight is promising. Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calo-ries, and higher in fiber, which promotes a feeling of fullness or satiety. Research has shown that children’s intake of fruits and vegetables tracks into adolescence (Resnicow, Smith, Baronows-ki and Baronowski, 1998), and that eating habits and food preferences established early in life continue into adulthood. Fruit and vegetable intake among adolescents is lower than recommended amounts (U.S. Dept. of HHS, 2005). Understanding why children and adolescents do or do not consume adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables is important in designing nutri-tion interventions tailored to their needs. Knai, Pomerleau, Lock, and McKee (2006) found multi-component interven-tions to be most effective. Examples were: activities that focused on specific fruits and vegetables rather than nutrition in general, and hands-on activities related 52 Techniques November/december 2011 www.acteonline.org

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