Nutrition 3: Got Broccoli?

What You Need


  • Food-related advertisements (For example, from packages or advertising supplements included in newspapers and magazines.)
Nutrition 3: Got Broccoli?


To understand why the body needs food, and how it takes necessary nutrients as food passes through the digestive system.


Students are starting to view the body as a system in these grades. One important thing they should start to understand is that in order for their “systems” to properly function, they need energy and materials from food (as the benchmark states). Though students know they must eat to live, they may not have made the distinct connection between food and the body properly repairing itself, or food and growth; even a connection as simple as a lack of iron or carbohydrates making one tired.

This lesson encapsulates what students have learned about nutrients, their different forms, and their importance for particular tasks in the body. It works in conjunction with Nutrition 1: Food and the Digestive System and Nutrition 2: Good Food, Good Health, which are Science NetLinks lessons on the digestive system and nutrition.

In this lesson, students are asked to look critically at the advertising claims of foods they eat, recognizing those that ascribe unrealistic, emotional, or psychological benefits to foods, rather than nutritional benefits. Students will then create an original advertising campaign for a “forgotten” vegetable, presenting compelling, factual information about the nutrients found in these foods and the benefits derived from them.

Planning Ahead

It will be important to collect a variety of ads to see the range of claims made by different companies. Students can collect these ads, or you can deliberately choose specific ones in order to steer the discussion in a particular direction.


Discuss with students (or if possible show a picture or clip) the popular cartoon character, Popeye the Sailor Man.

Ask students:

  • Does anyone remember the cartoon character Popeye?
  • What attributes did Popeye have?
    • (His main attribute was strength.)
  • To what did he attribute his strength?
    • (He attributed his strength to the spinach he ate.)
  • What would happen in the cartoon when Popeye ate spinach?
    • (The spinach would go right to his muscles and enlarge them and then he'd have a burst of strength.)
  • Do you remember Popeye's theme song?
    • ("I'm Popeye the Sailor Man, I live in a garbage can, 'm quick to the finish cuz I eat my spinach, I'm Popeye the Sailor Man.")
  • Why do you think spinach was used in this song for young kids?
    • (Answers may vary. Encourage students to explain their answers.)
  • Do you think it's a truthful claim? Can spinach, or any food, make you stronger? Why or why not?
    • (Answers may vary. Encourage students to explain their answers.)
  • How do you think most kids react to this claim? Do they believe it?
    • (Answers may vary. Encourage students to explain their answers.)
  • Can you think of other such sayings? 
    • (An apple a day keeps the doctor away, Carrots help you see better, etc.) What truth is there to these sayings? What kinds of things did you learn about the nutrients in foods and what they can and cannot do for your body?


Tell students that today they will investigate some of the claims that are made about food. Then allow them time to review the ads that have been collected.

Once students have done some preliminary exploration, ask these questions:

  • What kinds of advertising claims do these companies make about the benefits of their foods?
  • What do they claim they will do for your body? health? mind? physical abilities?
  • Which of these claims do you believe are factual? Why? Which do you believe are not factual? Why?
  • Which of these claims are nutritional, physical?
  • Which of these are emotional or psychological; i.e. make you happier, etc.?
  • How do you think most consumers react to these claims? Do they believe them?
  • Can food really "do" the things that are being claimed in these ads?
  • What can food "do" for you?

(Answers will vary. Encourage students to explain their answers.)

Students should use their Got Broccoli? student esheet to go to and read, or refer back to, the article from the previous lesson entitled 5 A Day Facts and/or the class survey results which were part of that lesson. Recall what the study/survey suggested about the kinds of snacks that students are eating.

Ask students:

  • Why do you think kids are making these choices?
  • Do you think that advertisements might have anything to do with kids' choices? Why or why not?

Tell students that they have been hired to create an advertising campaign to get kids back on track eating healthy foods, specifically, vegetables. Spinach already has a spokesperson, so they should choose one of the "forgotten" vegetables.

Arrange students in pairs. Review and discuss the assignment that students will complete. Using the example of spinach, briefly show students how to navigate the Food Facts page on the Dole site to find relevant information on the nutrients found in a vegetable they select.

Students should use their student esheet to navigate to resources that will help them create an original advertisement for their vegetable of choice. The advertisement must be factual, with evidence to support their claims. Students must create an attention-getting advertisement that incorporates specific information they have learned about nutrients provided by the vegetable and how they contribute to overall good health. The challenge is to make the advertisement factual, but compelling enough that kids their age will "buy into it" and choose to eat that vegetable.


Allow students to present their advertisements to the class, making a case for the vegetable and explaining its nutritional benefits. If possible, have students hang their advertisements in the school cafeteria.

In addition, ask students to complete a homework assignment in which they find an example of a food advertisement that makes a questionable or generous claim. Have them research the claim to determine whether it is true. If it is true, have them provide evidence. If it is false, have them revise the advertisement to make it factual.


 Have students play Grab a Grape from the Nutrition Café. Here, students select from categories such as Food & Sports, Bone Building, Weight Control, and Body Building to learn more about the nutrients in foods and what they can do for the body.

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Lesson Details

Grades Themes Type Project 2061 Benchmarks

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