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Cell Biol Educ. 2004 Summer;3(2):122-30.

An approach to improving science knowledge about energy balance and nutrition among elementary- and middle-school students.

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  • 1Center for Educational Outreach, Baylor College of Medicine, 1709 Dryden, Suite 545, Houston, Texas 77030, USA. nmoreno@bcm.tmc.edu

Abstract

Unhealthy diets, lack of fitness, and obesity are serious problems in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control, Surgeon General, and Department of Health and Human Services are calling for action to address these problems. Scientists and educators at Baylor College of Medicine and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute teamed to produce an instructional unit, "Food and Fitness," and evaluated it with students in grades 3-7 in Houston, Texas. A field-test group (447 students) completed all unit activities under the guidance of their teachers. This group and a comparison group (343 students) completed pre and postassessments measuring knowledge of concepts covered in the unit. Outcomes indicate that the unit significantly increased students' knowledge and awareness of science concepts related to energy in living systems, metabolism, nutrients, and diet. Pre-assessment results suggest that most students understand concepts related to calories in food, exercise and energy use, and matching food intake to energy use. Students' prior knowledge was found to be much lower on topics related to healthy portion sizes, foods that supply the most energy, essential nutrients, what "diet" actually means, and the relationship between body size and basal metabolic rate.

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