by Lise T. Mailloux – Health Educator

Goffstown High School, Goffstown, New Hampshire


Every organic system, from the microcosmic to the enormous, seeks homeostasis – that refined, systemic balance that sustains life and growth.  Every threat to balance is a threat to health and well-being – and when the threat is carried to the extreme, organisms die.  Therefore teaching health education, particularly with the teen population, demands both a holistic approach and a sense of urgency.  For many years, our curriculum has been rooted in the leading causes of death according to the US Centers for Disease Control.  But now it is time to take both studying health holistically as well as the necessary urgency deeper.

According to the May 31, 2013 Discover magazine article, “Life, Not Death, is Focus of New Health Metrics”.  (http://discovermagazine.com/2013/julyaug/18-international-health-metric-measures-years-lost) Christopher Murray and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) (http://www.healthmetricsandevaluation.org)  emphasize burdens upon health that result in numbers of healthy years of life lost.  This elegant model is a two-part theory that computes both what kills people and what burdens their lives with non-fatal health issues.  Here “quality of life” is demonstrated in a “footprint of disease” that claims new urgency – and that urgency is claiming the attention and economic distribution of such global giants as the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the United Nations.

Weighing these non-fatal burdens on human health and living quickly intertwines with the issues and challenges of food sustainability.  Thus I am revising the health education curriculum to introduce students to the ways food sustainability compromises survival and burdens our health and our lives.  As I begin this undertaking, I am threading this new statistical model as well as the issues of food sustainability throughout the existing curriculum.  I am choosing a particular food sustainability issue to integrate with each major health topic within the curriculum.  Each food sustainability issue will drive our exploration of the interrelationships between health, mortality, and the burdens of illness and disease.   As I work toward these revisions, I have been studying key, global information; models of utilizing the information; and specific issues that will provide accessible and fascinating approaches in the high school classroom.

Key, Global Information

Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – http://www.fao.org The FAO believes we must all choose diets founded in food sustainability. (Note also that there is a lot of information at this site concerning food labeling, and this is strongly related to Core Curriculum literacy requirements.)

World Health Organization – http://www.who.int/en/  

Produce with and without bees. image from Huffington Post.
Specific Issues

Bees and Pollination

Caption: Produce with and without bees. image from Huffington Post.

See http://townipproject09.wikispaces.com/Disappearance+of+Honey+Bees for an over-arching description of this issue.  See http://www.badgerbalm.com and click on “Healthy Honey Bee Keeping” under education for the work of one local, New Hampshire company.

Sustainable Food Preservation – The Pickle Project – http://pickleproject.blogspot.com

School Gardens – see the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations School Gardens website at http://www.fao.org/schoolgarden

Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syruphttp://www.sugarstacks.com (great visual for health class)


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