Fighting against a misconception about the Energy Yielding Metabolism: a proposal for starting the teaching of human nutrition in schools

F. Souza Silva, A.T. Da Poian, M.R.M.P. Luz


We have demonstrated that undergraduate and high school students share two contradictory concep- tions  regarding  the  energy  yielding  metabolism  (EYM):  the  incorrect  notion  that only glucose can be used for ATP  production together  with  more appropriated conception  according  to which other molecules,  mainly  lipids can also be used for ATP  production.  We have  deepened  the  study  about the origin of such conceptual  profile. Using questionnaires, we have determined that 7th grade school students do not  present  the  erroneous  conception,  but those  from the 8th  grade  (and  later  grades) do.  This  finding has led us to  propose  the  hypothesis  that the wrong conception  may  emerge as a result of formal learning during 8th grade.  Indeed, the analysis of 8th grade textbooks  showed that the carbohydrates were associated  mainly  with  energy production by the  cells, while proteins  and  lipids were regarded  only as structural and storage  molecules, respectively.  In addition, only the glycolytic pathway was taught in high school, reinforcing  the  misconception.   We have also demonstrated that the conceptual  profile was widely distributed among students from different schools of different regions of the Rio de Janeiro  state,  reinforcing the importance of reformulation of the teaching of EYM-related topics  both  in grade  and  high schools.  Here we describe  the  development and  the  evaluation of an investigation-based approach  to human  nutrition to be used with  8th grade  students.  This  method- ology is based  in the  use of the  nutritional tables  found  in Brazilian  food packages  and  allows the students to identify not only which of the main nutrients do contain  calories (and thus can be used for,, energy production,,) but the amount of calories found in 1g of each of them.  The methodology wastested  in different schools and the  results  show that the majority  of the students become aware that carbohydrates, proteins  and lipids contain calories.  The methodology described  in association  with a more integrated teaching  of the  EYM in high schools may prevent or at  least reduce the  occurrence of misconceptions  among students. Supported by CNPq  and FAPERJ.


Energy Yielding Metabolism, glycolytic pathway.

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