Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Fast Food Junkie

Christy Carpenter
Bay District Schools


Students analyze the nutritional value of their favorite fast food meals and describe alternative choices for these unhealthy foods.


The student understands the potential impact of common risk behaviors on the quality of life

The student understands the role of individual responsibility regarding personal risk behaviors.


-Nutrition charts and menus from at least three fast food restaurants
-Overhead projector
-Transparency of associated file
-2 Mason jars
-Red food coloring
-Paper, pens, markers and poster board
-Softened margarine


1. Be familiar with health-related diseases such as arteriosclerosis and heart disease.

2. Procure menus and nutrition charts from several fast food restaurants. These are usually available from the cashier at no charge.

3. Make a transparency of the associated file.

4. To shorten the lesson, prepare the mason jars with red water ahead of time.

5. List the following objectives on the board: a) The student understands the impact of a high fat diet on future quality of life; b) The student understands his personal responsibility in making healthy choices regarding diet.


1. Begin the lesson by asking students to list several unhealthy foods on the overhead. Discuss why they are unhealthy (fat, sugar and cholesterol content). (10 minutes)

2. Ask students to tell you their favorite fast food restaurants. List the three favorites on the board. (Be sure you have nutrition guides for these.) Ask students if what they eat at these restaurants is healthy. Why or why not? (5 minutes)

3. Discuss health risks associated with diets that are high in fat and cholesterol (heart attack, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, stroke) and the accompanying impact on quality of life. (10 minutes)

4. Demonstrate the effect that saturated fat has on a person's arteries by performing the following activity:

Fill two mason jars with water. Add enough food coloring to make the water in each jar resemble blood. Have a student who ate a fast food meal the day before describe what he ate. As the student tells you what he ate, add the softened margarine to one of the jars. Tell the students that the softened margarine contains saturated fat, much like the meal that the student just described. Shake the jar well. Pour out the colored water in each jar. Show the students the insides of the jars. Explain that saturated fats coat the walls of the arteries much like the margarine coated the insides of the jar and that this builds up over time, eventually restricting blood flow in these arteries. This is arteriosclerosis. (10 minutes)

5. Show students the transparency and have them ascertain the amount of fat they should be eating daily. Refer to the favorite meals on the overhead. Do these meals exceed this amount? What other foods from the same restaurant could be eaten instead to lower the fat content of the meal? Are there low-fat alternatives available at these restaurants? (10 minutes)

6. Put students in groups of 3-4. Let each group choose from one of the following assignments. Tell students they must demonstrate mastery of the related standards that are listed on the board.

#1- You are a group of nutritionists and advertising agents. You have been hired by a large fast food restaurant chain to introduce four low fat items to their menu. In addition, it is your responsibility to create the advertising campaign for these items. Draw and describe these items. Be sure to include TV ads and posters. What will you say to convince people that they should eat the items you have created?

#2- You are a team of archeaologists from a super health-conscious society in the year 2500. Your team has just uncovered the ruins of a fast food restaurant. Describe what you find and what it tells you about the health of Americans in the early 2000s. Explain how different your diet is and why society has changed its views about fast food restaurants.

Allow students about 45 minutes to decide on and complete their project. Tell students that they will present their projects to the class the next day. (Presentation time, approximately 30 minutes, depending on how many groups you have.)


Students complete one of the projects, which is assessed by the teacher. In this formative assessment, students should demonstrate the ability to identify foods that are not healthy, choose healthy alternatives, and exhibit knowledge of the consequences of an unhealthy diet. The teacher should circulate around the room to ensure that all students are working together and contributing to the assignment. The teacher should keep a checklist to assess whether or not students worked in a productive, cooperative manner.


ESE Modification: Pair ESE students with an advanced student to complete the assignment. Encourage ESE students who are artistically talented to volunteer to be the artist for the group.

Web Links

To get more information concerning fast food from the USDA, search with words such as fast food, cholesterol, etc.

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