Health, Nutrition, and Type 2 Diabetes

The increase in type 2 diabetes nationally and globally gives meaningful context for learning about nutrition, health, and the environmental and genetic contributions to this challenging disease.

In this unit, students are exposed to the complex, real-world problem of the rapid increase in diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes across the United States in the past 20 years. Students begin by considering the genetic and environmental contributions to a number of complex health conditions, and expand the term "environment" to include factors such as access to resources, pressures impacting personal choice, the emotional/social environment, as well as the physical environment. Students learn where glucose is found in the foods and drinks we consume, how blood glucose levels are maintained in the body, and how the failure of these mechanisms can result in type 2 diabetes. Students then analyze labels for carbohydrates and other nutrients and determine the durations of physical activity required for balancing calories consumed and calories burned. Throughout the unit, prevention and treatment are emphasized as students learn how good nutrition, exercise, personal choice, public health policies and community engagement can contribute to positive health outcomes.

Click here for the entire Health, Nutrition, and Type 2 Diabetes curriculum.

Click here for an overview of the module, which includes the Enduring Understandings for the unit and how the curriculum is tied to state and national health standards.

Please contact Joan Griswold at for the accompanying slide set.

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Lesson Description Class
Lesson 1

Genes and the Environment

Students explore unit themes through a Silent Chalk Talk conversation. Students then see how diabetes and obesity have increased dramatically in the United States over the last two decades by watching a slide set from the Center for Disease Control. Students consider how the environment has changed during this time. Health
Lesson 2

Our Environment: Access and Choice

Students learn how type 2 diabetes is influenced by our environments and assess their own environmental risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Students learn how the change in environment for one population has impacted their health over time. Health
Lesson 3

Glucose: From Fuel to Toxin

Students model glucose as the building block of most carbohydrates and learn how blood glucose balance is maintained (or not) when type 2 diabetes develops. Students then create analogies to explain the roles of glucose, insulin, and the pancreas. Health
Lesson 4

What Are We Eating?

Students examine food and drink labels and calculate the percentage of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates contained in different foods and drinks, and visually illustrate liquid sugars in a beverage. Students consider changes in diet over time and figure out how different types of food impact blood glucose levels. Health
Lesson 5

An Ounce of Prevention

Students learn ways in which exercise can aid in treating and preventing type 2 diabetes and determine durations of physical activity required for balancing calories consumed and calories burned Health
Assessment Students make final contributions to the Chalk Talk posters, identify themes for the unit, and assess the SMART goals they set for themselves. Lastly, students consider how they might make a meaningful contribution to the prevention of type 2 diabetes. Health
University of Washington Department of Genome Sciences
Education Outreach, Box 355065 ~ Foege Building, Room S-334 ~ Seattle, WA 98195
phone: (206) 616-4538 fax: (206) 685-7301