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Learning Experience/Unit

Food Fat

Course, Subject

Health, Home & Careers, Health, Physical Education, and Family and Consumer Sciences

Grade Levels

Commencement, 9th Grade, 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade

Learning Context/ Introduction

The purpose of Food Fat is for teenagers to evaluate snack foods dealing with calories and fat and to use this information to make informed and wise food choices. Students will be able to identify the amount of fat in common snack foods, and graphically see the fat in a container by measuring the equivalent of the food fat with shortening. Students can also determine what kind and amount of physical exercise would be needed to burn off the same number of calories from this snack food.


Students should have a general knowledge of nutrition and should be able to read a food label or nutrition chart. In some instances, students will need to perform basic math skills such as changing a fraction to a percent when calculating percent of calories from fat and simple multiplication or division to determine the length of exercise time to burn off snack food.

What The Students Do:

Using a snack food label or information from a nutrition chart, students work individually or in pairs to determine the following information:

  • serving size
  • calories per serving
  • grams of fat
  • percent of calories from fat

Continue working in pairs to determine the amount of food fat in each snack. Use shortening to represent the food fat equivalent (approximately 1 tsp. of shortening = 4 gms. of food fat) and measure that amount into a labeled container. (Wash any measuring equipment.) Use a chart with calorie usage to determine how long a typical student would need to walk or run to burn off the calories from the snack. This information is also placed on an index card.

Report results and compare the amount of fat in common snack foods. Discuss whether their snack food was a good, fair, or poor snack choice based on fat and calories. Predict if this project will influence their own snack choices in the future and why by completing the assessment.

After approximately two to three weeks, complete the written assessment again to determine if healthier snack choices were being made.

What The Teachers Does:

Assign different snacks to each student or pair of students. Provide reference materials such as nutritional charts for snacks from fast food restaurants and other charts indicating calorie expenditures for exercising such as running and walking.

Assist students needing individual help and facilitate reporting/discussion.

Provide access to a sink and detergent for washing measuring spoons.


One class period is needed for the completion of the activity, with additional time on another day for formal sharing of results and processing of the activity.

Assessment Tools/ Techniques

Students could be graded for completion of the classroom project and from the classroom discussion.

An individual written assessment could also be given from students' responses to the following questions:

  1. What did you or others learn from this classroom activity?
  2. How can this activity help you or other teenagers make healthier food choices?
  3. What are at least 10 healthy food choices for snacks that are low in fat?
  4. Write a brief statement about your snack habits, whether they usually include foods high or low in fat, and what you could do to improve your snack habits, if applicable.
  • Rating Guides
  • Reflection

    This activity actively engages the students to determine fat content in foods and can be personalized when students analyze their most frequent or popular snack items. The drawback with any awareness activity is that, despite an understanding of information, a behavior change or making better choices is not a guaranteed result. Therefore, this activity could be enhanced with additional reinforcement activities, heart disease issues, and by stressing the relationship of exercise and health.


    Janet Driscoll
    Seneca Falls Central Schools
    Mynderse Academy
    Seneca Falls, NY


    Driscoll, Janet. "Food Fat." Health, Physical Education, Family and Consumer Sciences Resource Guide Part II.1. New York State Education Department, 2-4.

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