Buck Institute for Education

New-Tritional Info

Author: Mathalicious

What will my students be doing?

In New-Tritional Info, students use rates and proportions to calculate how long they’d have to exercise to burn off different McDonald’s menu items and explore this even further in two project tasks, Have It Your Way and Would You Like Fries with That?

What's Included:

  • Project Overview
  • Launch Activity & Lesson Guide
  • Project Tasks
  • Student Handouts
  • Teacher Guides
  • Interactive Media

Current Version: January 10, 2018

In some cities, restaurants are required to post nutritional information for their foods, including the number of calories. But what does “550 calories” really mean, and does this information have an impact on what people eat?

In the launch activity of New-Tritional Info, students use unit rates and proportional reasoning to calculate how long they’d have to exercise to burn off different McDonald’s menu items.  For instance, a person who weighs 125 pounds would have to ride a bike for more than 90 minutes to burn off all the calories in a Big Mac! They then discuss which they think is a better representation of nutritional information – calories or minutes – and imagine what would happen if fast food companies rewrote their menus in terms of exercise.

Students explore this even further in the project tasks, and can choose between two topics. In one task, students create a personalized menu tailored to their own bodies, diets, and exercise routines. In another, they use an “exercise” version of a McDonald’s menu to conduct a survey to determine whether presenting nutritional information differently affects what people order.

Project Notes

  • Subjects: Math
  • Grade Level: 6th
  • Common Core Aligned
  • Time Required: <10 Hours
  • CC BY-NC

Sponsored By


The World Is an Interesting Place. Math Class Should Be, Too.

At Mathalicious, we think the world is an interesting place full of interesting questions. Do people with small feet pay too much for shoes? Do taller Olympic sprinters have an unfair advantage? How have video game consoles changed over time…and are we building the Matrix?

We also think math class is the perfect place for students and teachers to explore questions like these, and that it can be the most interesting part of the day.

Project Documents

Project Author

Mathalicious creates lessons around real-world topics that help middle and high-school teachers address the Common Core while challenging their students to think more critically about the world. Lessons explore such questions as, Do people with small feet pay too much for shoes, and should Nike charge by weight? (unit rates), and How does memory deteriorate over time, and how much can you trust it? (exponential decay). For more information, or to view its growing library of lessons, please visit www.mathalicious.com.