3 Topics for Teens

Do you work with teens? Have you ever been asked to present to a class of high school students? Teens can be a tough audience, but the information you share might end up making a big impact on their health and wellness.

Here are three potential topics that are relevant to teenagers, along with facts and recommendations for education materials/resources that will make your job easier.

#1: Sleep

  • The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that teens sleep 8–10 hours/day.
  • According to the CDC, about 7 out of 10 teens don’t get enough sleep on school nights.
  • Common Sense Media reports that 29% of teen smartphone owners say they’ve been woken up by their phones during the night by a call, text, or notification.


#2: Physical Activity

  • Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity for youth up to age 17.
  • American Heart Association says that only about 1 in 4 high school students get the recommended hour a day of physical activity.
  • Common Sense Media reports that American teens spend an average of nearly 7.5 hours/day in front of screens (not including homework or school). (That was in 2019 — it’s probably worse for 2020!)


#3: Vaping

  • While a recent CDC/FDA report shows that teen tobacco use is down, nearly 1 in 4 high school students still use tobacco products.
  • E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among middle and high school students.


Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD



We Need to Talk About Vaping

Vaping has been getting a lot of press since last year’s outbreak of lung injuries related to e-cigarettes. But even before that, the Surgeon General called on health care providers and teachers to inform youth about the dangers of vaping. (1)

Our new Dangers of Vaping poster is a great starting point for these important conversations. Display this poster wherever kids or parents will see it – in cafeterias, gyms, classrooms, exam rooms, waiting areas, and offices.

We know you may not be familiar with vaping, so here’s some basic information about the topic and tips on where to find out more:

Where to find accurate information:

  1. Start by watching this video from MD Anderson Cancer Center. It touches on pretty much everything you need to know about vaping and is easy to understand.
  2. Next, check out these two websites for facts, tip sheets, infographics, and other resources:

Vaping basics you need to know:

  1. Vapes (e-cigarettes) are the most commonly used tobacco product among youth. The use of e-cigarettes is higher among high school students than adults.
  2. Vaping refers to the use of e-cigarettes, which are electronic devices that heat a liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales through a mouthpiece.
    • E-cigarettes come in all shapes and sizes. They are also known as e-cigs, vapes, vape pens, e-hookahs, mods, and tank systems.
    • Click here for a comprehensive glossary, including pictures. You can also see what the devices look like in the video mentioned above.
    • Juul is a very popular brand of e-cigarettes. Juuls are shaped like USB drives, making them easy for kids to hide. They also come in flavors that appeal to youth.
  3. The vaping liquid typically contains nicotine, flavorings, and other additives. E-cigarette devices can also be used with marijuana and other substances.
    • Besides nicotine, the liquid may also contain other harmful ingredients, such as:
      • Flavorants (like diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease).
      • Volatile organic compounds (like benzene, which is found in car exhaust).
      • Heavy metals (like nickel, tin, and lead).
  4. Many parents and youth don’t realize that most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, even though the label may not say so.
    • Nicotine comes from tobacco and is highly addictive.
    • Nicotine affects brain development. Since the brain is still developing until about age 25, the use of any tobacco product is particularly dangerous for youth and young adults.
  5. Other potential dangers from vaping include:
    • Increased heart rate and blood pressure.
    • Lung damage.
    • Stomach upset.
    • Worsened asthma.

Free downloads we like:

  1. Surgeon General’s parent tip sheet.
  2. Surgeon General’s health care provider conversation card.

(1) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General—Executive Summary. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2016. Accessed online February 2020.

Displays for High School

It’s been a while since I shared a reader request in this space, so today let’s talk high school.

Sucu reached out to me recently, and here’s what she wanted to know…

Hello: Do you have any resources or suggestions for a nutrition message for a high school bulletin board you can share asap. Thanks.
Healthy Regards,

What fun!

I initially pointed Sucu to a few things we’d already made. There’s a fantastic high school poster set in the store, and a whole 12 lessons for teens program that is chock-full of display ideas for a bulletin board. My team and I have been polishing a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) collection that could come in handy too.

But then I thought I’d get more specific.

So, here’s a how-to for two different bulletin board displays for high schools.

Display #1: Skip Sugary Drinks

Teens are drinking a lot of sugary drinks these days, and that can be bad news for their health, both in terms of displacing more nutritious calories and adding excess empty calories to their eating patterns. To help educate teens about what they’re drinking, start with a bright, eye-catching poster that can make up the center of your display. This Are You Drinking Candy? poster is a particularly compelling one, and Beverage Better and Sugar Math are two other good choices, so go with whatever best fits your aesthetic.

From there, take a look at the sodas, energy drinks, and sport beverages that are available at school. Take photos of the Nutrition Facts labels on each one if you can, or print off some labels for equivalent products and highlight the sugar content of each one, along with the serving size. Scatter these images around the poster. You could also measure out the equivalent amount of sugar into these great test tubes and attach the tubes to the board near photos of each drink and its Nutrition Facts.

Fill in the remaining space with more information about the impact of sugary drinks on health. This tearpad has great handouts, and this blog post about energy drinks comes with a free printable handout that would be a good fit for this theme too.

Take a look at our collection of prizes for other resources to make your bulletin board display as engaging and memorable as possible.

Display #2: Nutrition Facts Panel

The Nutrition Facts label is changing, and there’s no reason for teens to stay in the dark. To help them learn what they need to know to use this resource to improve their eating patterns, put together a Nutrition Facts bulletin board!

You can pull a lot of inspiration from the New Nutrition Facts Label Display post that we put together in the spring of 2016.

Combine this Nutrition Facts Poster with a Food Label Handout to center your bulletin board display. Or, if you have more space, this 48-inch by 36-inch Nutrition Label Vinyl Banner would be a great way to draw people over to your display. Add a few different Nutrition Facts labels to the bulletin board, highlighting elements that are either good or bad for the kids’ health (perhaps color-coding would come in handy). Highlight only one or two aspects of each label so that they don’t get overwhelming.

Finish off the board with a few Nutrition Facts Stickers and Nutrition Facts Bookmarks to fill any empty spaces.

I hope this comes in handy for you! Keep those requests coming!