Option F Food and Health

Lesson Plans for the Geography of Food and Health Topic

These learning activities cover everything in the IB guide for this topic. Lesson plans include resources to use on an interactive whiteboard and worksheets to print. The pages have full student access to give maximum flexibility to the teacher and the student. There are theoretical notes for extended reading and teacher notes at the top that provide timing information lesson objectives and activity instructions

1. Measuring Food and Health


Global patterns in food/nutrition indicators, including the food security index, the hunger index, calories per person/capita, indicators of malnutrition

The nutrition transition, and associated regional variations of food consumption and nutrition choices

Introduction to Food and Health

This page introduces the geography of food and health and contains resources to support a thought provoking introductory lesson into the theme. It sets out some key concepts and skills and develops in brief, some of the key content developed later in sub-pages. The sub-pages provide a  full set of resources sufficient to teach the unit in full or to dip into as you choose. As with other courses, skills and concepts are integrated into the resources as well as the approaches to learning.

Global Patterns in Food/Nutrition

This pages introduces global patterns of food and nutrition. It defines key concepts and measurements. Students explore the patterns within a number of interactive contemporary maps based around the issues of hunger and food security. Students then work on interpreting the Food Security Index and the Global Hunger Index, describing the patterns, components, differences and uses

The Nutrition Transition

The following page uses a number of resources including worksheets adapted from Popkin's model to explore how the nutrition transition varies from region to region. It then begins to critique the model by introducing the double burden through a WHO infographic and a number of country profiles in both video and PDF. It concludes with a student investigation into the health profile of Mali.


Global patterns in health indicators, including health-adjusted life expectancy (HALE), infant mortality, maternal mortality, access to sanitation and the ratio between doctors/physicians and people

The epidemiological transition, the diseases continuum (diseases of poverty to diseases of affluence), and the implications of a global ageing population for disease burden.

Life Expectancy as an Indicator for Health

This page provides class resources to introduce the topic of health in the world. It presents a positive overview of the current situation regarding life expectancy. Students investigate the current world health context through a number of key resources including, a short class survey, Hans Rosling and an interactive health map and database by the the World Health Organisation.

Measuring Health

This page provides a number of excellent class resources for investigating the different types of health indicators. The page introduces the different types of health indicators in depth, provides you current data and enables students to explore the strengths and limitations of each health indicator in a fun and informative way rooted in enquiry.

The Epidemiological Transition

The students are introduced to the epidemiological transition through a number of graphs, maps and resources. Students investigate the patterns of disease at different stages of development and come to understand and explain the transition from communicable disease to noncommunicable disease. This is explained through development factors and lifestyle choices. Toward the end of the topic students come to realize that with rapid development and migration in our ever connected world countries are faced with the challenges of a double burden.

2. Food Systems and the Spread of Disease


The merits of a systems approach (inputs, stores, transfers, outputs) to compare energy efficiency and water footprints in food production, and relative sustainability in different places

Food Production, Systems and Sustainability

This page provides resources for two lessons based on the merits of a systems aproach in comparing energy efficiency, water footprint and overall sutainability of food production. It uses a number of exciting resources to introduce the concepts of energy efficiency, water footprint and sustainable agriculture. Including PDF resources, informative well chosen clips, a critical thinking activity on an infographic and a lesson based on nexus thinking and hexagon cut-outs. It is encouraged that you supplement this latter activity with issues relating to your school's local geographical context.


The physical and human processes that can lead to variations in food consumption

Why do some eat less?

This page provides a good introduction to a broad range of factors relating to food secuirty. It examines the environmental, demographic, political, social and economic factors that have caused areas of food deficiency and food insecurity. It does this through a number of interactive resources including a learning walk activity and thought provoking resources linked to a discussion on Food Entitlement and Food Availability Deficiency (FED & FAD).

Why do some eat more?

This page examines the patterns and causes of obesity at both the global and regional scale. It introduces them with a hexagon starter activity based on what students already know and then uses the interactive graphs and maps and PDF resources from the Public Health England website to allow students to investigate the issues at the national scale in England. There are a series of interactive tools and worksheets that students can either use within the site or through the interactive whiteboard.


The importance of diffusion (including adoption/acquisition, expansion, relocation) in the spread of agricultural innovations, and also in the spread of diseases, and the role of geographic factors (including physical, economic and political barriers) in the rate of diffusion

Diffusion and Agricultural Innovations

This page provides a good introduction to the factors that influence the spread of innovation. It begins with a short gallery activity to introduce agricultural innovation. This is then extended through a worksheet on types of innovation. A theoretical context to diffusion is provided through comparing different types of agricultural innovation to Hägerstrand’s innovation curve as well expansion and hierarchical spread. This is developed through examples such as large scale dam construction, pesticide use and GM crops. The lesson concludes with the use of a card sort with students examining the different geographical factors that act like bridges or barriers to innovation.

Diffusion of Disease

Students are introduced to the theory of disease spread. Through visual resources, a variety of maps and videos students are provided with the knowledge to explain how the geographic concepts of diffusion by relocation and by expansion apply to the spread of diseases. A number of case study examples, including Ebola and  H1N1 virus are developed to sow how the spread of disease can be managed. The lesson leads uo to a student simulation of  disease outbreak and they required to manage it.


Geographic factors contributing to the incidence, diffusion and impacts (demographic and socio-economic) of vector-borne and water-borne diseases

  • One detailed example of a vector-borne disease and one detailed example of a water-borne disease

Vector-borne and Water-borne Disease

This page includes two lessons on vector borne and water borne diseases. It examines the zika virus spread in Brazil as well as the cholera outbreak that followed the Haitian earthquake in 2010. A number of imaginative resources, including infographics, animated story telling and more detailed documentaries are provided. In addition a number of excellent PDF worksheets accompany the resourcing.

3. Stakeholders in Food and Health


The roles of international organizations (such as the World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and World Health Organization), governments and NGOs in combating food insecurity and disease

The influence of TNCs (agribusinesses and the media) in shaping food consumption habits

    The Role of International Organisations, NGOs and Governments

    The following page provides resources for three to four lessons on the role of international organisations, NGOs and different national governments in combatting food insecurity and disease. It uses a variety of in-depth resources, fact sheets, educational videos and exemplary material to examine the different roles. It addresses the interchanging and complex role of these different stakeholders and specifically examines the role of the EU and US.

    The Influence of TNCs (Agribusiness) in Influencing Consumption Habits

    The page explores the role of agribusiness and the media in influencing food consumption. The lesson begins with a look at a number of food commercials and students identify how such commercials influence consumer decisions. Students then look at the role and dominance of agribusinesses across the food supply chain through a number of graphics, based on the food price index, food production and consumption patterns. The lesson then looks at the role of agribusiness in land grabs and seed patents and how Vindana Shiva argues this is root cause of hunger in rural regions of developing countries.


    Gender roles related to food and health, including food production/acquisition and disparities in health

    Gender Roles Related to Food and Health

    This page examines the role of gender in terms of access to health care and production and access to food. It begins by looking at what the key data on HALE and life expectancy tells us and explores why women tend to fare better but at the same time how the data may show a gender bias. The page explores a number of place examples, including women cooperatives in Niger and maternal care in Chad, as well the issues of patriarchy and polygamy in Sub-Saharan Africa and its impact on the diets of girls and women.


    Factors affecting the severity of famine, including governance, the power of the media and access to international aid

    • One case study of the issues affecting a famine-stricken country or Area

    The 2017 South Sudan Famine

    This pages explores the influence of governments at different scales, the media and humanitarian systems on the famine of South Sudan in 2017. It begins by examining the complexity of famines in terms of their causes and rarity before looking at the role of different media outlets including social media and mapping media. The page goes on to investigate the specific roles of government and humanitarian agencies in South Sudan. Students explore the issues through a card activity and produce a diamond ranking of causes. The lesson concludes by specifically looking at the role of different humanitarian agencies including the WFP in South Sudan. There is also an assessment essay based on critiquing the role of the government.

    4. Future Health and Food Security and Sustainability


    Possible solutions to food insecurity, including waste reduction

    • One case study of attempts to tackle food insecurity

    Reducing Food Insecurity

    This page examines the importance of different factors in reducing food insecurity. It begins by recapping the role of aid and different types of aid. Student watch short clips a couple of example aid projects and consider to what extent they reduce food insecurity and over what time frame. The resources then develop a more detailed case study based on livelihood resilience in Bangladesh. In the second lesson students critically examine the role of free trade and the reduction of trade barriers and question the real success of this approach in relation to food security. Finally students distinguish food waste in developed countries and food loss in developing countries and investigate to what extent reductions in food waste will reduce food insecurity.


    Advantages and disadvantages of contemporary approaches to food production, including genetically modified organisms (GMOs), vertical farming and in vitro meat.

    Contemporary Approaches to Food Production

    This page provides an in-depth look at contemporary approaches to food production, including GM Crops, Vertical Farms and In Vitro Meat. The page is set up for students to work independently or teacher led through bespoke enquiry questions and activities alongside a noting sheet to identify the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. There is also the opportunity to develop a class debate around three key statements on the approaches. The tasks can be completed as part of the preparation ahead of the class debate. The resources develop specific place examples and explore the impacts of these approaches on food security and long term environmental sustainability.


    The merits of prevention and treatment in managing disease, including social marginalization issues, government priorities, means of infection and scientific intervention

    The Merits of Prevention and Treatment

    This page begins the lesson with a thought provoking image gallery that shows different types of social marginalisation and cultural taboo. Students need to identify the link between the images before going on to read more detailed examples. The lesson then explores the merits of prevention and treatment quite subtly through examples of contemporary diseases such as Nodding Syndrome as well as the historical responses to HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. A variety of resources are used, including a short documentary and maps, graphics and text to explore the regional geographical challenges. It ends by looking at the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Through these examples the issues of social marginalisation, government priorities, means of infection and scientific intervention all become apparent.


    Managing pandemics, including the epidemiology of the disease, prior local and global awareness, international action and the role of media

    • One case study of a contemporary pandemic and the lessons learned for pandemic management in the future

    Managing Contemporary Pandemics - Covid-19

    The following page develops resources on the lessons to be learned from the management of the Covid-19 Pandemic. It looks systematically at different stages of management from the science of epidemiology to the mental health pressures of lockdown and social distancing measures.

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