Jun 16-Aug 08, 2014
Credit: 2 graduate
Tuition & Fees: $557.00 NSTA members receive a discount.
Instructor(s): Virginia Lee Mermel

Register Online

Course Description

Nutrition habits of children and teens are known to have an impact on their present and future health, their ability to learn and their physical performance (athletics). However, many of these young people are not making the grade nutritionally. For example:
  • The rate of obesity has doubled in the past decade.
  • Symptoms of adult diseases (diabetes, hypertension, heart disease) are showing up in younger children and teens.
  • During the important growth period of adolescence many teen diets lack the recommended amounts of key nutrients essential for optimal growth.
  • According to a recent study done by the US Department of Agriculture, only 1% of children met all of the nutrition recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • Eating disorders are on the rise, particularly in young men.
Throughout this course teachers will investigate various content areas applicable to adolescent nutrition and discuss if and how a School Wellness Policy can influence these nutrition topics. Teachers will want to obtain a copy of their school’s or school district’s wellness policy if it has one. These content areas include:
  • Current concerns and health statistics relative to adolescent nutrition
  • The Learning Connection, breakfast, physical activity and academic success
  • Key nutrients of concern in adolescent diets
  • Sports nutrition
  • Dietary supplements
  • Eating disorders and body image
  • Using the MyPlate tool to create a daily meal plan
  • Converting MyPlate to MyTray
  • The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
  • Food safety
  • The important role of the school environment in supporting sound nutrition.
Students will receive materials for 6 ready-to-teach lessons: The Let’s Move 5210 initiative; Handwashing/BacT multiplication; Calcium content of bones; Sugar Metabolism; Sugar in Drinks and Snacks; the new Smart Snacks in Schools Regulations- what to sell for in-school fund raisers.

Selected classroom resources, which engage the student and provide for experiential learning, will be highlighted for all content areas. Course participants will be required to complete weekly reading assignments, take part in online discussions (asynchronous), submit 2 short assignments, and complete an independent course project; either develop two nutrition lessons which make use of resources reviewed in class ~OR~ develop a plan for implementing a major objective of the school wellness policy. The class project is due one week after completion of the course lectures (August 15, 2014).

Meeting Place and Times

This course is taught online. Course participants login and participate at a time of day that is convenient for them. It is recommended that participants login at least 4 to 5 times per week and plan on spending 9 to 12 hours each week the course is in session, in order to successfully complete this 2 credit graduate course.


Virginia Lee Mermel. PhD, CNS. Dr. Mermel holds a doctorate in nutrition with a minor in exercise physiology and is a board certified human nutrition specialist with an emphasis in weight management to control chronic disease risk. She has authored college textbooks and taught college and post-graduate courses in nutrition and health risk management. Virginia participated in the 2006 American Medical Association Expert Panel on Pediatric Obesity Treatment. Currently, Virginia divides her time between working as a School Wellness Coach for Montana Team Nutrition and volunteering her time to coordinate the Billings Public BackPack Meals and Teen Pantry Programs she established. Together, these programs provide food for very low-income students on weekends and over school holidays. Additional volunteer activities include chairing the School Health Advisory Committee for Billings MT Public Schools since its inception in fall 2006 and serving as an active member of Billings Action for Healthy Kids. Virginia has recently served a Public Policy Co-coordinator for Montana Dietetic Association and Sponsorship Chair for the School Nutrition Services Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


A Bachelors degree and one year of teaching experience -OR- by permission of the instructor. A college level nutrition course is desirable.

Target Audience

Middle school and high school teachers who are interested in enhancing their course content and exposure to classroom resources related to adolescent nutrition.

Time Commitment:

9-12 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees

 Program Fee $17.00
 Computer Fee$7.00
 Distributed Learning Fee$0.00

A $30 registration fee is also charged once per semester.

The costs above assume that you are taking only MSU Extended University courses during the semester that the course is offered. If you also registered for courses through the MSU Registrar, the regular MSU fee structure may apply.

A $40 late fee will be assessed if payment is not posted to your account by 3 pm (Mountain Time) of the course start date (or the business day before if the course starts on a weekend or a holiday).

To learn more about tuition and fees, please see the University Business Services' Student Accounts Web page.

Course participants are on their own to purchase the text. See information and options listed below.

NSTA Members are eligible to receive a 10% discount on the tuition. Enter your NSTA Membership Number when you are asked for it on the registration form.

Optional Books/Materials:

  • Students are not required to purchase a textbook for the course. Each week, Dr. Mermel will provide Links to select reading materials within the class notes posted on the D2L website. However, students may find a textbook useful, especially If they plan to teach nutrition to their own students. Following are some suggestions for books teachers enrolled in Teaching Adolescent Nutrition MAY want to add to their professional libraries:
    • Personal Nutrition, 8th Edition
      by Marie Boyle and Sara Long, Wadsworth Publishing © 2013.
      This book is a traditional textbook with some ancillary materials including a diet analysis disc. The book is available in standard paperback ($121.99) versions with free shipping from Cengagebrain. It can also be rented for 60, 90 or 120 days for $80.49, $90.49 and $100.49, respectively from Cengage.
    • Nutrition for Dummies, 5th Edition
      by Carol Ann Rinzler, IDG Publishing © 2011 suggested retail price: $21.99, found online for $14.22 is a good general nutrition reference. This book provides a basic overview of consumer nutrition topics but lacks the in-depth information found in a textbook.
    • How to Teach Nutrition to Kids, 4th Edition
      by Connie Liakos Evers, MS, RD. 24 Carrot Press, ©2012.
      This new edition features even more creative ideas for parents and teachers who want to encourage children to select foods that are good for them. Hundreds of activities aimed at children ages six to 12, including MyPlate.
    • Fueling the Teen Machine, 2nd Edition
      by Ellen Shanley, MBA, RD, CD-N; and Colleen Thompson, MS, RD. Bull Publishing, © 2011.
      Written for teens and addressed to them, this book covers calories and weight management, vegetarian diets, eating disorders, exercise and much more.
    • The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy
      by Lisa Stollman, MA, RD, CDE, CDN. Nirvana Press, ©2012.
      Whether living at school or at home, teens will find practical information on menus, physical fitness, sample meals and more. Also covered are food labels, fiber, junk food and mindful eating.

Computer Requirements:

  • Internet access
  • A device and browser that pass the system check for Brightspace LE, MSU's learning management system.

This course uses a learning management system. You will learn more closer to the course start date.

For More Information

Contact Virginia Mermel at

How to Register

Register Online