Rachel Freedman's Mini Course: Childhood Obesity's Impact on Learning


Return to: Rachel Freedman

Childhood Obesity's Impact on Learning

1353097131 3454 childhood obesity.jpg

Overview and Purpose

About one in six kids in the United States is currently overweight. That is approximately 17% or 12.7 million children who are considered obese. Childhood obesity is an ever growing problem in the United States that leads to an increased risk of diabetes, heart attacks and certain cancers, as well as poorer academic performance as early as kindergarten. The First Lady Michelle Obama has made it her mission to combat it with the national campaign “Let’s Move!” The idea behind the program is to help solve the childhood obesity epidemic right now with the help of the children. With over 95% of young people enrolled in school, schools along with educators can make a difference.

During this course educators will take a closer look at the obesity epidemic, the role of schools, and create a plan for what they can do to help combat childhood obesity to improve learning for all students.


Needs Assessment

Obesity kills; it is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. It often begins in childhood and these children grow up to become obese adults. As a society, we have changed the types and quantities of food we eat and reduced physical activity and children and adolescents have become too commonplace with both. This had hindered children’s ability to learn. Sugars, caffeine, chemicals, and sodium, found in many popular items have left kids tired, jittery, unfocused and sick which impacts student’s grades and performance as well as their behavior and mood.The promotion of physical activity and healthy eating have long been a component of the American education experience so this is not a new topic. The classroom is the idea place to bring up the fight against childhood obesity as most children are in school 5 days a week, 10 months a year.

The mini course will allow educators to take a closer look at the diets and physical activities of their students and what they can do to help combat childhood obesity in their classroom and school.

Educators will help their students analyze their own diets and how they can have an influence their learning. Educators will also learn how they can help by developing a plan, either using existing resources or creating their own, to help combat childhood obesity.

The learners for this course will be educators work in a school environment with children ages 5-18. The educators will be of various subject areas and come from a variety of different backgrounds. Their experience may vary as well as their knowledge on the subject This course will give them a chance to become more acquainted with the topic and their influence on the health of their students.

During the course educators will read information, view videos, answer questions, have class discussions and create a plan to help the combat of childhood obesity.

Educators completing this mini course will be able to identify the factors causing childhood obesity and the characteristics of a healthy lifestyle and how they influence learning. They will be given information and participate in activities that allow them develop a strategy to help combat childhood obesity in their school environment. Upon completion of this course educators will be able to use this knowledge to change their schools for the better.

The main goal of this mini course to make sure teachers are aware of their students lifestyle choices and how it effects their health and learning. As well as what they can do as educators to help play a role in fighting childhood obesity.

Performance Objectives

The educators will be able to...

  • Help their students recognize how their diets and activity levels impact their lives using sources such as SuperTracker.gov.
  • Using scholarly research, identify how childhood obesity is impacting learning.
  • Assess how their school falls in helping fight or contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic.
  • Recognize what schools can do to make a difference.
  • Set up a program to implement that best for their school which helps combat the childhood obesity epidemic, using resources that may already exist, ie. Play 60, Let's Move, etc.

Course Units

Unit 1: What factors are influencing the childhood obesity epidemic?


  • Educators will become aware of the choices that their students make on an everyday basis.
  • Educators will determine what factors are influencing childhood obesity in their environment.


  • Educators will have students track their food and activity for a week.
  • Educators will have students analyze their diet and activity.

Unit 2: How is learning being influenced by the childhood obesity epidemic?


  • Educators will become aware of how childhood obesity plays a factor in learning.


  • Educators will read previous studies on the impacts of childhood obesity and learning.
  • Educators will discuss the impacts that that childhood obesity has played in their learning environment.

Unit 3: What can be done in schools to help combat childhood obesity epidemic?


  • Educators will determine how their school can best combat childhood obesity.


  • Educators will discuss the impacts that that childhood obesity has played in their learning environment.
  • Educators will setup/implement a program in their schools to help fight childhood obesity.
  • Educators will review the impact that the previously implemented program is having on their school environment.

Extended Resources

Super Tracker

Teens Health for Nemours

Crosnoe, R., & Muller, C. (2004). Body Mass Index, Academic Achievement, and School Context: Examining the Educational Experiences of Adolescents at Risk of Obesity. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 393-407.

Gardner, A. (2012, June 1). Does obesity affect school performance? - CNN.com. Retrieved December 10, 2015, from Does obesity affect school performance?

Naticchioni, K. (2013). E Relationship between Obesity and Academic Achievement of School-Age Children. John Carroll University Carroll Collected.

Poon, L. (2014, March 1). Obesity Linked To Lower Grades Among Teen Girls. Retrieved December 10, 2015, from http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/03/11/289070502/obesity-linked-to-lower-grades-among-teen-girls

Sanchez, H. (2014, September 29). Childhood Obesity Affects Academic Performance, Studies Show. Retrieved from http://www.ischoolguide.com/articles/2849/20140929/childhood-obesity-affects-academic-performance-studies-show.htm

Action for Healthy Kids

Let's Move

Fuel Up to Play 60!