Better Understanding Meal Compositions

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Ward Melville High School students enrolled in the Critical Health Issues class taught by Maureen Kost recently applied their knowledge of nutrient information and the USDA recommendations to determine the health value of common fast food restaurant items.  

All fast food restaurants are required to supply the consumer with nutrition information for their standard menu items. Students were able to choose menu items from local fast food restaurants such as Chick-fil-A, Five Guys, McDonald’s, Panera, Taco Bell and Tropical Smoothie. They then discussed how often they look at the nutrition labels in restaurants, why food labels are important and if the availability of that information makes a difference in their food choices.  

After the discussion, the students were given supplies (salt, sugar, Crisco shortening to act as fat, teaspoons, plate and worksheet for conversions) to see just how many teaspoons of fat, sugar and salt were in their meals. Students dished out the teaspoons of fat, sugar and salt onto a plate, and were surprised when some meal options required a second plate. They then examined why too much fast food can contribute to health problems and identified ways to make healthier food choices even when they are eating out.