60–90 min.

What’s Lurking In Your Fast Food?

  • Science (Life)
  • STEM
  • English Language Arts


Fast food has been associated with higher caloric intake and poorer diet quality in children and adolescents. Why is this? What is lurking in fast food that may contribute to this increase in childhood obesity? Since its beginnings in the 1920s, Americans have depended on the fast food industry for quick, tasty and inexpensive meals. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics reported in a 2011–2012 study that nearly one third of children and adolescents are eating fast food on a given day. The consumption of fast food has been linked to weight gain and the percentage of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s. In this lesson students will synthesize information on the building blocks of life—carbohydrates, lipids and proteins— by conducting a series of chemical tests to determine which major biomolecules are found in common foods. After they have determined the nutrients that are in common foods, they will research and analyze the nutritional content of popular fast foods. Students will summarize the different types of essential nutrients that organisms need to support growth, form new molecules and release energy and the links that the overconsumption of biomolecules may have with the increase in obesity and other health conditions in children and adolescents.

Student Will Learn

  • 21st Century Skills
    • Critical Thinking
  • Design Principles
    • Communicating Results

Content Areas

  • Health
  • Life Science
  • Chemistry


  • Analyze various food items that may be found in fast food using chemical tests to discover which of the major biomolecules they contain
  • Examine the link between fast food consumption, obesity and other health conditions
  • Propose solutions for healthier fast food choices

Grade Levels


Suggested Time

  • 60–90 minutes (1-2 class sessions)