|Every year, Americans spend millions of dollars on weight loss products and books attempt to shed excess pounds. Especially popular are “quick fix” products and services – those advertising lofty weight losses in a short amount of time. While the many people who follow these fad diets may lose weight in the short term, it is likely they will eventually gain the weight back, and often they will end up heavier than they were before.
This curriculum is designed to help people recognize fad diets and teach them how to set more realistic goals. Participants are encouraged to incorporate nutritional changes they can live with for a lifetime, including balanced meals and snacks and moderate physical activity. Using MyPyramid and the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a guide, participants learn science based advice designed to reduce their risk of diseases and maintain a healthy weight.
Although the curriculum could be used with any group, it is best suited for use with adults and teenagers because of its content. It would be best taught in a small group, where participants can voice their opinions, and share their experiences and expectations with one another. Although the lesson is designed to be taught in an hour, it may take more or less time depending on how involved the instructor goes and the group’s willingness to share their own experiences.
There are five handouts included with this curriculum, as well as a program evaluation. While some of them include pertinent information and activities, you do not have to use all of the handouts to teach the lesson. Some of the handouts are quite long and include a great deal of text. They do not contain graphics or white space, and may be intimidating and difficult for people with limited English reading skills. Quick reading, more brightly colored fact sheets summarizing the same information may be a better option for certain groups. “The Scoop on Popular Weight Loss Diets” would probably read better as a condensed chart containing the same information, perhaps including more current fad diets. The last two handouts can also be combined with the USDA Publications “Your Personal Path to Health: Steps to a Healthier You” and “Finding Your Way to a Healthier You: Based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans”, which contain essentially the same information. Although lengthy, the handouts are great tools for general knowledge. They may be used instead as a reference sheet for more advanced learners or as background information for teachers who have not had formal training in nutrition.
The curriculum is based on the principles of behavior change and includes activities that help participants incorporate changes into their lives. Behavior modification techniques are included in the lesson as a part of the second handout. It is unique and notable to see behavior change incorporated in a curriculum like this, and will likely enhance the program and its results. A review of MyPyramid, serving size equivalents, and changes from previous versions of food guidance are also included. The program evaluation consists of three questions evaluating participant’s behaviors and intentions before and after experiencing the program, also a measure of behavior change.
Overall, this a quality curriculum perfect for a quick lesson on healthy eating during this National Nutrition Month. It can be modified for use in most settings, and is perfect for participants in search of valid and accurate nutritional information on weight loss and weight management!
Note: To read and access the curriculum and its components you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader loaded on your computer. A link and instructions on downloading this free program are available at the bottom of the order URL. Direct links to the curriculum and some of the handouts are included below.