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It seems that every year a new fad diet comes along that promises instant weight loss. With all the media hype, students believe what they hear. This fifth-grade lesson plan, from the Food for Thought nutrition curriculum, teaches students that the best way to to stay healthy and lose weight is through good nutrition, serving sizes, and exercise.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • learn the truth about the claims of fad diet.
  • learn how to live healthfully through a balanced diet and exercise.
  • learn how to measure serving sizes.

Teacher planning


Teacher background materials

Fad diets: The whole truth
Document courtesy of Wheat Foods Council
Open as PDF (22 KB, 3 pages)
Truth behind the claims
Document courtesy of Wheat Foods Council
Open as PDF (17 KB, 2 pages)
Twists and turns of fad diets
Document courtesy of Wheat Foods Council
Open as PDF (14 KB, 2 pages)


Eat well, be active!
Document courtesy of Dairy Council of California
Open as PDF (394 KB, 2 pages)
MyPyramid for kids poster
Document courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture
Open as PDF (2 MB, 1 page)
MyPyramid for kids worksheet
Document courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture
Open as PDF (123 KB, 1 page)
Serving sizes are in your hand
Provided by Nutrition Services Branch of the North Carolina Division of Public Health and published in the Food for Thought curriculum.
Open as PDF (50 KB, 1 page)


Students should be familiar with the mathematical concepts of estimation and measurement of ounces and cups.


  1. Ask students which popular diets they have heard of. Responses may include: Atkins, South Beach, Sugar Busters, The Zone, The Cabbage Soup diet, and others. Allow for some discussion of what some of these diets are.
  2. Using the “Fad Diets – the Whole Truth,” “Truth Behind the Claims,” and “Twists and Turns of Fad Diets,” teacher resources discuss the dangers of fad diets.
  3. Using the “Dietary Recommendations for Healthy Children” and “Exercise and Children” webpages from the American Heart Association, emphasize healthy eating and physical activity patterns that can be followed for a lifetime.
  4. Distribute the “Eat Well, Be Active!” handout and continue the discussion, instructing students to respond to the check lists. Emphasize ways to be physically active and the importance of eating healthily instead of trying fad diets.
  5. Distribute the “MyPyramid for Kids” worksheet and instruct students to record all the food they eat for a day. Distribute the “MyPyramid for Kids” handout and the “Serving Sizes are in Your Hand” handout to be used as guides in determining food groups and amount eaten.


Assessment can be made from the students’ active participation in the discussions and completion of the “MyPyramid for Kids” worksheet.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Healthful Living (2010)
      • Grade 5

        • 5.NPA.1 Apply tools (MyPyramid) to plan healthy nutrition and fitness. 5.NPA.1.1 Use My Pyramid to make healthy choices of foods and beverages. 5.NPA.1.2 Use recommendations in MyPyramid to increase physical activity.
        • 5.NPA.2 Understand the importance of consuming a variety of nutrient dense foods and beverages in moderation. 5.NPA.2.1 Summarize the influences of family, culture, and the media on food choices 5.NPA.2.2 Infer the benefits of limiting the consumption of foods...
        • 5.NPA.3 Understand the benefits of nutrition and fitness to disease prevention. 5.NPA.3.1 Contrast dieting and healthy weight management, including limiting high-fat and high-sugar foods. 5.NPA.3.2 Explain the benefits of regular physical activity on physical,...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Healthful Living Education (2006)

Grade 5

  • Goal 4: The learner will apply knowledge and behavior self management skills to areas of nutrition and physical activity for healthy growth, development, and maintenance.
    • Objective 4.06: Compare and contrast the dangers of dieting with healthy weight management.