Bioenergetics: An ecological approach to nutrition education

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    Bioenergetics is the process by which living organisms live in balance with their environment by obtaining the necessary energy and returning this energy or matter to the environment. This paper reports on a new approach in the area of nutrition education for junior high school students.

    In opening The White House Confer-ence on Food, Nutrition and Health, Presidem Nixon said, with regard to nu-trition education, "We don't know just how many Americans are act,ually hun-gry and how many suffer from malnutri-tion, who eat enough and who don't eat the right things. But we do know there are too many Americans in both cate-gories (1)."

    This journal has already discussed the need for nutrition education (2) as well as inciudlllg some suggestions on how to bring this about (3, 4). Again the Pres-ident, seven months before the Confer-ence stated in a message to Congress (5):

    " ... People must be educated in the choosing of proper food. AH of us poor and nonpoor alike must be reminded that a proper diet is a basic determinan~ of good health."

    Nutrition education is one of the methods to improve the nutritional in-take of our dtizens. The question is, then, how to go about educating people in proper nutrition. We must find ways to engage peoples 'attention; we should avoid the word "nutrition" which does sound "old and worn." What new ap-proach should be presented to junior high school students in their study of nutrition?

    All too often this content area is glossed over very quickly or entirely omitted.

    We must incorporate the prevailing cultural, social, and economic factors that affect food selection and intake.

    Ecological Approach At the present -time, there is much

    concern over the ecological state of "spaceship earth" toward three major problems: popula,tion, pollution, and food production. It is in this vein that we approach the problem of nutrition edu-cation by incorporating nutrition within the whole realm of ecological balance on this planet. An ,adequate nutrient intake for all peoples is not isolated from the other problems facing man. It is part-

    THE AUTHOR is a science teacher, Robert Frost Junior High School, 12314 Bradford Place, Granada Hills, Calif. 91344.

    possibly one of the determining factors -f the whole scope of environmental entanglements facing mankind as he en-ters ,the last quarter of the 20th century.

    "Health ... is not an isolated condi-,tion. It's a sanitation problem, ... it's a food problem, it's a treatment problem. And without a massive education pro-gram and a coordinated effort you are just putting money down the drain (6):'

    As an educator attempts to organize any particular content area, he immedi-ately recognizes the tremendous quanti-ty of material available on the subject. Discoveries within the sciences, especial-ly during the past dozen years, has made it necessary to organize content into Big Ideas, generalizations, or concepts (7) for instruction.

    Behavioral objectives also should be pre-determined: what must the students be able to do as a result of this instruc-tion?

    Following the lead of a number of curriculum studies, and the recently adopted California Science Framework (8), the method of scientifIc inquiry has been used to directly involve the stu-dems with ,the subject matter (as scien-tists are involved), as well as providing an opportunity to formulate concepts and meet the pre-determined objectives.

    The format used in presenting these ideas is taken from ,the Framework for Health Instruction (9); major concepts are listed, as well 'as examples of beha-vioral objectives. Learning activities are currently being tested 'and re-written to fit within the ecological, lab-oriented, in-quiry approach. A summary of labora-tory activ~ties will be made at a later date.

    The following approach may seem fragmented. Topics have been re-shuffled from the "traditional"-not just for the change or disguise-but, hopefully, to render nutrition more palatable (no pun intended) for those students we hope to reach.

    An Overview Content Level 1- The Importance of Energy

    Concept A: The fitness of an organ-ism within its environment depends on

    Richard H. Marqusee

    its ability to take matter and energy from the environment.

    Objecti ve : Explains the relationship between the different parts of the eco-system and its possible sources of energy.

    Content: (a) energy systems, (b) laws of thermodynamics, (c) balanced eco-systems, (d) web - of -life, (e) other sources of energy.

    Concept B: Food is made up of cer-,tain chemical substances that work to-gether and interact with body chemicals to serve the needs of the body.

    Objective: Describes the process by which raw materials are synthesized into foods and by which foods are broken down into raw materials.

    Content: (a) producers and photosyn-thesis, (b) consumers-respitation, di-gestion, absorption, excretion.

    Concept C: A proper supply of nutri-ents 'satisfies the need for energy, growth and repair, and the regul,ation of body activities and processes.

    Objeotive: Lists the three functions of food energy. Content: (a) work, (b) tissue (re ),building, (c) regulation and protection. Content Level II-The Balance in Na-ture

    Concept Ai: The amount of nutrients needed are influenced by age, sex, size, activilty, specific conditions of growth, and are altered somewhat by environ-mental stress.

    Objective: Based on the various influ-ential factors, differentiates between the relative 'amoUD'ts of nutrients required by individuals.

    Content: (a) age, (b) sex, (c) size, (d) activity; etc.

    Content A2: Food plays an important role in the physioal and psychological health of an individual just as it does for the family and society.

    Objective: Discusses the importance of good nutrition in relationship to opti~ mum body functioning.

    Content: (a) importance of nutrition (b) good health, (c) animal-feeding ex~ periments, (d) exercise.

    Content B i : Each nutrient has specific uses in the body; obtainable ,through dif-ferent combinations of food.


  • Objeotive: Identifies the specific uses of nutrients and some food sources of each.

    Content: (a) food sources of protein, (b) of carbohydrate, (c) fat, (d) vita-mins, (e) minerals, (f) water.

    Concept B2: A daily food gUIde is helpful in translating the technical mfor-mation into terms of everyday food suit-able for individuals and famihes.

    Objectives: Summarizes kinds and amounts of needed food for proper health; balances diets deficient in certam nutrients; chooses food that comprise a well-balanced diet.

    Content: (a) getting enough, (b) choosing right, (c) balanced meals.

    Concept B3: Food is chosen to fulfill physiological needs and at ,the same time satisfy social and cultural and psycholog-ical wants.

    Ob}ective: Given food-plans accepted by different cultures, organizes them in-dividually to make nutritional, as well as tasteful, meals.

    Content: (a) culture and society, (b) meal plans. Content Level III-Interaction with the Environment

    Concept A: Poor nutritional practices

    contribute to the development of many diseases and disorders.

    Objective: Identifies personal health problems that may result from poor die-tary practices and illustrates how nutri-tional choices can help to prevent them.

    Content: (a) foodpOlsoning, (b) par-asite infection, (c) obesity, (d) malnu-trition, (e) deficiency diseases, (f) indi-ges,tion.

    Concept Bl: The way a food is han-dled influences the amount of nutrients in the food, its safety, appearance, taste, and cost.

    Objective: Indicates how processing and handling affect food values and con-sumers.

    Content: (a) processing, (b) protec-tion, (c) additives, (d) pesticides, (e) sanitation, (f) preparation.

    Concept B2: Suggestions for the kinds and amounts of needed nutrients are made by trained scientists who continu-ously revise the suggestions in light of the findings of new research.

    Objective: Evalualte nutritional claims with regard to the scientific data present-ed on foods.

    Content: (a) food research, (b) nutri-tional fads and diets, (c) space "spin-


    off," (d) food sources for a world in need.

    REFERENCES 1. White House Conference on Food, Nu-

    trition and Health, Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D.C. 20402, December 1969, p. 8-9.

    2 Briggs, G. M, "The Need for Nutrition Education," J. Nutr. Educ., 1 :7-8, Sum-mer, 1969.

    3. Todhunter, E. N., "Approaches to Nu-trition Education," J. Nutr. Educ, 1 :8-9, Summer, 1969.

    4. Niehoff, A, "Food Habits and Cultural Patterns," Food, Science and Society, Nutrition Foundation, New York, 1969, 54-68.

    5. CongressIOnal Record-Senate, 91 Con-gress, I Session, May 7, 1969, p. 11669.

    6. Shaw, B., "Let Us Now Praise Dr. Gatch," Esquire, 69'108, June, 1968

    7. White House Conference on Food, Nu-trition and Health, Superintendent of Documents, Washington, DC., 20402, December 1969, p. 151.

    8. California State Advisory Committee on Science Education, Science Framework for California Public Schools, California State Department of Education. Sacra-mento, 1970.

    9. Fodor, J. T , B. C. Gmur, and W. C. Sut-ton, Framework for Health Instruction in Cailfornia Public Schools, California State Department of Education, Sacra-mento, 1970.

    Virginia Li Wang and Paul H. Ephross Here is an evaluation of one segment of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program being carried out by land-grant universities to enhance human development.

    Much has been accomplished since 1913 when the Smith-Lever Act created the Cooperative Extension Service as a part of the land-grant university in each state. In compliance with responslbilities accepted under the act, a nationwide sys-tem was established by which knowledge could be ,transmitted from professional sources ,to the people in order to enhance human development and maximize the individual's contribution to his society. A current Extension thrust is a re-empha-sis on service to low-income families in an attempt to provide learning experi-ences directed toward solving major so-cial and economic problems in the na-tion.

    The Expanded Food and Nutrition

    THE AUTHORS are, respectively, Health Education Specialist, Cooperative Extension Service, Umversity of Mary-land, College Park, Md., 20740, and As-sistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Md. 21201.

    Education Program was initially funded in 1968 by the U.S. Department of Agri-culture. In 1969, the hiring of aides to conduct a nutrition education program with low income families on a six months trial period began. In 1970, the appropri-ation was expanded and money was made available from regular Smith-Lever funds.

    Target populations are the hard-to-reach rural and urban poor families of Maryland who are not motivated or able to seek educational assistance and not currently served through the programs of other agencies. Special effort is direct-ed toward reachmg families with young children and the aged. Indigenous non-professionals are employed as front-line program aides; one reason is the hypo-thesis that their backgrounds are more relevant to the people they serve than would the backgrounds of most profes-sionals.

    On February 1, 1970, there were 74 aides employed in 13 counties and the


    city of Baltimore. During the previous calendar year, 51 aides worked in nine counties and Baltimore, assisting 1,426 families representing 8,112 persons. Ex-tension Aides are seleoted primarily from the community in which they live and work in keeping with the concept of "hir-ing the poor to serve the poor." They are recruited, trained and supervised by des-ignated county Extension Home Econo-mists, assisted by other members of the county and state staffs and coopemting agency personnel who also serve the poor. In-service training is provided to the supervising agents and aides on a continuing basis by specialists on the state staff and other personnel.

    After the aides are recruited, they at-tend three weeks of intensive training be-fore starting field work. The supervising agent then provides continuing training for the aides in once-a-week, haIf-day group sessions and individual consulta-tion.

    SPRING, 1971


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