Nutrition and Health: Story Ideas for the Radio



Nutrition and learning

Message: Children who do not eat enough of the proper foods do not learn as well as well-nourished children.

Program (drama): A young boy is failing his classes at school and his mother visits his teacher to express her concerns. The teacher explains that the boy is always tired and that maybe he is not getting enough nutritious food. She explains that a child cannot learn in school unless he or she is eating healthy food. The mother changes her son’s diet. She now gives him breakfast before school, and prepares a nutritious snack for his morning break. Every day she also serves a variety of healthy food, from each of the food groups.* The young boy’s grades improve after a few months and he is now motivated in his studies.

The three food groups are:

  • Body building foods that build muscles and strength (protein): meat, eggs, milk, fish, legumes (fresh and dried peas and beans), nuts.
  • Energy foods (carbohydrates and fibre): sweet potato, yams, cassava, maize, rice, millet, porridge, bread.
  • Protective foods (vitamins and minerals): green leafy vegetables, pumpkins, carrots, mangos, oranges, papayas.

Country foods are nutritious too

Message: Rural people in many parts of the world used to depend on a variety of country foods for survival or to supplement their diet. Although less used now, these foods are still valuable and add a variety of nutritious foods to the diet. The cultivation of country foods has the added benefit of preserving forest and other areas of wild vegetation.

Program (interview): Interview a local specialist on nutritious foods that can be found growing wild in the countryside. The specialist could be a farmer, a village elder, a nutritionist, or anyone who has experience identifying, harvesting and preparing these foods. Examples of country foods are wild yams and other tubers, ferns and other greens, fruits, nuts, and a wide range of edible animals such as birds, grubs and insects. Discuss the nutritional value of country foods and where to find them locally. It might also be interesting to discuss the reasons for the decrease in use of wild vegetables, and the value of wild vegetation in the community.

My grandmother, the home garden manager

Message: Grandmothers have a special and often critical role in making household decisions, including those that relate to family nutrition and health. In particular, their contribution to household food security and nutrition should be acknowledged and respected, to contribute to their own sense of confidence and empowerment.Program (narrated story): A young girl tells, in her own way, the special role her grandmother has in providing nutritious food for her family. She explains the complicated tasks that her grandmother manages including the following: identifying the type and quantity of foods that each member of her family needs and which foods she can grow in her garden; planting in succession so that there is a new crop to harvest at all times; planning crop rotation; and processing foods in a way that best preserves nutrients. This story can be told by the young girl or through dialogue between the girl and her grandmother.

Only safe food is healthy food

Message: Safe handling, preparation and storage of food improves health and helps prevent illness.

Program: A street vendor sells roasted corn and rotis (choose common street foods in your region) for lunch at a street corner daily. One day, one of his regular customers gets very sick. The sickness comes from contaminated food that the vendor sold the customer. As the story unfolds, it becomes evident that the vendor had not been careful about hygiene. He did not wash his hands thoroughly with soap and water every time before cleaning and preparing food. He cooked the food ahead of time and left it uncovered, exposed to flies and dirt. He is in danger of losing his business as word spreads that he is selling contaminated food. Explain to listeners the importance of proper hygiene when handling food. The rules about safe food handling include:

  • Wash hands using soap and clean water before preparing, serving and eating food.
  • Wash hands using soap and clean water after every visit to the toilet.
  • Use clean water when preparing food. Boiling water for 5 minutes will kill germs.
  • Store food in a cool, clean place to avoid growth of bacteria.
  • Cook all meat, poultry and seafood thoroughly, at high tempertures, and serve at once.

This story could be told in the voice of the vendor or with another person narrating the story. It could also be developed into a drama.

Further suggestion: Invite a nutritionist or health care worker to the studio following the broadcast to discuss what happened in the story, and how it could have been prevented. Or interview a woman who sells street food and is very careful about hygiene.

People with HIV/AIDS can improve their appetites

Message: Adults and children with HIV/AIDS often lose their appetite and/or are too tired to cook meals. This may be due to the person’s physical or emotional state. People with reduced appetite should:

  • eat small amounts of food several times a day
  • eat favourite and familiar foods
  • eat with other people in social situations.

Program (drama): A mother and her son pay a visit to the village health clinic. The son is infected with HIV/AIDS. He has little appetite and is losing weight. The doctor explains that the son’s appetite can improve and he can gain weight and strength if he eats small meals several times during the day. The doctor also says that it is important for people with HIV/AIDS to eat foods that taste good, and to join the family for meals as much as possible. He suggests that the mother can increase the son’s energy by: adding some extra sugar to his sweet drinks, adding some oil to his meals, and serving him bananas, groundnuts and seeds for snacks.

Further suggestion: Discuss further the idea of preparing high-energy drinks and snacks for people with HIV/AIDS. Share some recipes on the air. Ask listeners to share their recipes with other listeners.


Contributed by Jennifer Pittet, Thornbury, Ontario, Canada.

Reviewed by Hélène Delisle, Department of Nutrition, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Information sources

“Nutrition in the ‘wild’,” Fiji food & nutrition newsletter, 2nd quarter 1991, Volume 12, No. 2. National Food and Nutrition Committee, Suva Fiji.

“Strengthening grandmother networks to improve community nutrition: Experience from Senegal,” Gender and Development, Volume 9, No. 2, 2002.

“The importance of food safety,” Fiji food and nutrition newsletter, 2nd quarter, 1999, Volume 24, No. 2. National Food and Nutrition Centre, Suva, Fiji.

Nutrition, HIV and AIDS: A handbook for Pacific Island health workers, 1999. Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Noumea, New Caledonia.

“Nutrition and learning,” in Nutrition: A foundation for learning, 2002.