Health Media Literacy is a 21st Century Essential Skill

Optimal health is not just the absence of illness or disease; it is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. I can’t think of anything more challenging right now, as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.  While we may be locked down temporarily, we must not lock ourselves in to the status quo of formalized schooling—including what constitutes core curriculum. Disparate times call for disparate measures, so to speak.

Navigating the current pandemic requires that young people acquire an increasingly complex set of skills, such as understanding statistical data, evaluating the credibility and truthfulness of health information, analyzing the risks and benefits of a particular treatment or vaccine, and interpreting test results. An essential skill in 2021 is health media literacy.

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Nutrition Education: The Political Version

The Atlantic offers an excellent conversation-starter video (5 minutes) about the myths of nutrition education that have been perpetuated throughout public schooling for decades. A food media literate person investigates the Food Pyramid with such questions as: “Whose interests are served?” “What is left out?” “Whose voices are excluded?” and “At what cost? And to whom?”

Remember learning about the food pyramid in health class? As it turns out, it was based on a lot of misinformation about nutrition. In this episode, we explore the source of some of the lasting myths about healthy foods and fitness and the new science shaping health class today.

The political pendulum continues to swing with the more recent Choose My Plate guidelines. Watch a unique health care-ful presentation below that explains it. Then apply the same media literacy questions to Choose My Plate: “Whose interests are served?” “What is left out?” “Whose voices are excluded?” and “At what cost? And to whom?”

You can learn more about applying media literacy principles to food media from Dr. Vanessa (Domine) Greenwood’s course Food Media Literacy.