Health Challenges: Diabetes

This in-depth lesson and project was shared by Nikki Heflin of Westfield High School, in Westfield Indiana. id-100314453_optThis lesson was designed for the course Advanced Nutrition and Wellness. This series of activities and projects is part of a unit called Dietary Issues and Health. The health issue most focused on is Type II Diabetes. The way that things are going, statistics show that 1 in 3 students will be affected by this disease, yet many have very little knowledge of what Type II Diabetes is or how to prevent it. This lesson introduces students to health challenges with a focus on dietary needs throughout the life-span, and has students do a research project on Type II Diabetes, create an online poster for a school-wide Stop Diabetes Campaign to raise awareness, and concludes with a group lab experience where students re-create a healthier version of popular comfort foods.


  • Students begin by reading textbook chapters relating to potential challenges that may be faced by individuals at various stages of their life.  Additionally, students explore positive health practices that help to ensure optimal health and wellness during said stages of life.
  • When people are suffering with illnesses or stress, they often turn to high sugar, salt and saturated fat comfort foods.  In order for the body to cope or heal, it needs nutritious, nutrient dense foods.  So, students are asked to choose a comfort food recipe and then are assigned the challenge of finding a healthy version of the same recipe, following specific guidelines.  This assignment allows students to explore and model what Dietitians may have to do regularly for clients.


  • Food For Today & Guide to Good Food Textbooks
  • Laptops


  • Students then research Diabetes, answering specific questions, using approved and suggested websites.
  • The American Diabetes Association’s Stop Diabetes campaign has put together some commercials like this one or this one trying to educate and halt the growth new cases being diagnosed.  Some of these are shown in class to inspire the final online poster assignment.
  • Now that students have researched Diabetes, they partner up and use the information to create an online poster or info-graphic aimed at educating their peers. Here’s an example of one created by Nikki’s student, using Canva.
  • Finally, each student in a lab group presents their healthy recipe and the group votes on the one they’d like to prepare and then presented to the teacher for final approval. In the past, recipes have included favorites such as pot pie, chicken noodle soup with healthy whole grains and vegetables, mashed potatoes and baked “fried” chicken, and even a few casseroles.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at Free Digital Photos

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