Elaine Gantz Berman has been a member of both the Denver Board of Education and the Colorado State Board of Education. In Colorado, State Board of Education members are elected by party affiliations. “I find that terribly unfortunate,” she said, because “politics enter into many of our very important policy decisions. You would think that nutrition education is nonpartisan. It is not.” The Colorado State Board currently has four Republicans and three Democrats. Thus, for votes pertaining to nutrition education, that means “it’s never quite smooth sailing.”

Starting in 2009, Colorado added comprehensive health education standards to its preexisting academic standards. Health education includes sex education, which “was definitely a little tricky, but we [managed to reach consensus],” in part through artful compromises. Health education also includes physical education, which is staffed in a different department than nutrition education. One way to coordinate the two, which Berman believes is important, would be to establish a team that brings together representatives of these departments to coordinate their work, but such teams also need to have the ear of the commissioner of education so that they do not end up talking just among themselves.

In the area of “apply knowledge and skills to engage in lifelong healthy eating,” Colorado established the following expectations:

Elementary school expectations

  1. Demonstrate the ability to engage in healthy eating behaviors.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to set a goal in order to enhance personal nutrition status.
  3. Examine the connection between food intake and physical health.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to make and communicate appropriate food choices.
  5. Identify eating and drinking behaviors that contribute to maintaining good health.
  6. Know that eating a variety of foods from the different food groups is vital to promote good health.
  7. Identify the major food groups and the benefits of eating a variety of foods.

Middle school expectations

  1. Analyze factors that influence healthy eating behaviors.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to make healthy food choices in a variety of settings.

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