Biggie Size It, Please!

English: Animation of U.S. Obesity Trends by S...

English: Animation of U.S. Obesity Trends by State 1985–2008. (%of people with BMI >30) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In discussing the factors which are associated with obesity in the U.S. population in 2013, several explanations have been suggested. Science Daily published an article last week written  by Gary Taubes, co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative,  addressing the various causes of the obesity issue entitled “What really makes us fat? Article questions our understanding of the cause of obesity.”

The fundamental question: Do  people overeat or get fat because they are eating more, or do they eat more because  the macronutrient nutritional value or composition of their foods promotes fat accumulation?

What kind of “educational nutrition” are we offering?

Interesting! Having read this, I found myself wondering (as I so often do) about our classrooms. Do we give our students a plate of food (textbook information or lecture material)  filled with macronutrients? We simply present the material, expecting students to consume without interest, surprise, excitement, novelty or intrigue. What if, by chance, we were to present the same information to our students in a way that would draw them into the learning experience,making them want to consume as much of the material as possible? Ask any of the judges on the Food Network TV show Chopped—presentation is one of the main criteria for making food pleasurable and desired. Wait! I think I may be challenging my students to become “informavores”!

“Overeating” can be a good thing…in learning.

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe (Photo credit: epSos.de)

English: Students working with a teacher at Al...

We, as educators, should move toward creating a learning environment which causes the students to “overeat”. We need to foster the creation of an insatiable appetite for the information and concepts critical to the subjects we teach. We should not settle for a substandard approach to the classroom presentation.

We spend a significant amount of money each year (an estimated $150 billion dollars) on purchasing nutritional food. College students, attending public institutions, spend roughly $9,000. – $10,000 /year on classes. Considering that roughly 60% of the population will attend an institution of higher learning at some point in their lives. Now, you do the math. If we are spending this amount of money to obtain an education, shouldn’t it be filled with nutritious bites of information rather than “nutrient-poor” filler?

How Do We Make It Tasty?

Obesity Campaign Poster

Obesity Campaign Poster (Photo credit: Pressbound)

In designing our classes and preparing lecture materials, maybe we should ask ourselves: What is the nutritional value of our product? Yes, it may take a few more minutes and a little more energy on our part, but isn’t the end result worth the time spent?

Obesity? Yes, I want each and every student who sits in my class to be obese. I want them to gulp and devour as much of the information as they can. How great would it be if, a few years down the road,  we’re faced with an obesity problem in learning.

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One comment on “Biggie Size It, Please!

  1. Brian says:

    This gets some thoughts going. With physical hunger, one experiences it naturally, and the sight of large amounts of food can be appealing. The large amounts still get eaten one bite at a time, however. It would feel overwhelming if all had to be eaten at once. Maybe some of learner hunger gets muted by the fear that large amounts of information must be swallowed all at once rather than one bite at a time. I still feel overwhelmed if I see a long and difficult article and think that I have to get it down immediately. It can kill my hunger if I let it. Perhaps we should learn from the grazing type species as well as the lions who make only occasional kills and then fatten up and nap. B

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