Culture and Obesity

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Assignment Discovery Online Curriculum Lesson title: Culture and Obesity Grade level: 9-12, with adaptation for younger students Subject area: Contemporary Issues Duration: Two class periods Objectives: Students will 1. learn how culture influences body perception; 2. examine prejudices toward obese people; and 3. examine their own feelings about their bodies. Materials: - Psychology textbooks, periodicals, and other text resources - Computer with Internet access (optional but very helpful) - Copies of Classroom Activity Sheet: Three Women - Copies of Classroom Activity Sheet: Tally of Students’ Perceptions of Body Weight and Size - Copies of Take-Home Activity Sheet: Your Opinion About Weight and Body Image

Procedures: 1. Begin the lesson by giving students the Classroom Activity Sheet: Three Women. Tell students to look at the pictures and respond to the questions. Students should not attempt to make informed answers; they should give their initial reactions by responding quickly. They should not write their names on the sheets. 2. Collect the Classroom Activity Sheet: Three Women. Select one or two students to tally students’ responses on the Classroom Activity Sheet: Tally of Students’ Perceptions of Body Shape and Size . 3. While these students tally the responses, ask the class why you presented the survey without any introductory discussion. Responses will vary, but most students will suggest that you are trying to gauge attitudes toward overweight and thin people. 4. Have students present the survey results, and discuss them with the class. Typically, the thin women (A and B) receive the most positive responses, while the heaviest woman (C)

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receives the most negative responses. Discuss how students came to their conclusions. Students’ comments may include the following: - “Woman C is heavy, so she must be the most unhealthy.” - “Since woman C is heavy, she can’t be making wise decisions consistently, because fat people eat too much, and they eat bad food.” - “Woman C isn’t attractive because she’s too big. She should lose weight.” - “That woman needs to work out.” Conclude the discussion by summarizing students’ responses. 5. Divide students into four groups. Ask each group to consider how society influences our perceptions of overweight and obese people. Encourage students to consider the many ways we get information, including family and friends, television, movies, music, literature, and advertisements. Have each group prepare a presentation that includes the following: A paragraph focusing on the group’s ideas about how these factors influence our perceptions of overweight and obese people. It should state the factors that have the most influence and why. A summary, based on research, of the factors that influence society’s perceptions of overweight and obese people. Research material may include pictures from magazines, advertisements, examples from movies and books, and any other resources about body perception. A conclusion about the group’s original ideas: Were they supported by research, or did they change? Students should explain how and why any of their ideas changed.

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6. Suggest that students use magazines, newspapers, and resources from the library and the Internet, such as the following Web sites: http://www.atlantaparent.com/First%20Page%20APRIL%2001.htm http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt/risk.htm http://www.cornell.edu/food/expfiles/topics/sobal/sobaloverview.html http://webmd.lycos.com/content/dmk/dmk_article_40062 7. Have each group share its presentation. Do the groups agree on how society influences our perceptions of overweight and obese people? Do they believe that one factor is more significant than others? If so, which one? Why do they think that factor is so important? 8. Conclude the lesson by asking students whether their opinions in the original survey have changed as a result of their research. Would they answer the questions differently...
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