Health & Nutrition Education Guidelines

Details on the Department's Standards-Based Health Education.

Comprehensive Health Education

Health Education is relevant to students’ lives and supports students’ health, resilience, total well-being, and academic success so they may reach their aspirations, from early learning through college, career, and citizenship. 

Providing students with a high-quality, comprehensive Health Education equips and empowers them with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to address their current and future health needs and challenges. Health literacy is essential to students’ social, emotional, mental, physical, and cognitive development.

Health-literate individuals are able to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others. This contributes to resilience, well-being, healthy relationships, and a positive quality of life as well as prevents and reduces the risk of disease, injury, and death. In addition to maintaining and enhancing their own health, health-literate individuals are also able to advocate for the health of others.

Today’s Health Education reflects the growing body of research that emphasizes:
  • Supporting the health, resilience, and total well-being of the whole child (i.e., students’ social, emotional, mental, physical, and cognitive development)
  • Developing health literacy skills aligned to National Health Education Standards.
  • Building functional knowledge with relevant and functional information aligned to Priority Risk Topics.
  • Strengthening connections with family and community.
  • Addressing students’ needs and interests through interactive and social learning experiences.
  • Nurturing attitudes, values, and beliefs that support positive health behaviors through safe, inclusive, and caring messages and learning environments.
  • Less effective Health Education often overemphasizes teaching scientific facts and increasing student knowledge.

The National Health Education Standards: Achieving Excellence (NHES) were adopted by the Hawai‘i State Board of Education in December 2019. A three-year implementation rollout begins in School Year (SY) 2020-2021, with full implementation of the NHES in SY 2023-2024. 

The primary focus of high-quality standards-based Health Education curriculum, instruction, and assessment are to develop students’ health literacy skills to proficiency within and across grade levels:

  • Standard 1: Comprehending Concepts - Students will comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention to enhance health. 

  • Standard 2: Analyzing Influences - Students will analyze the influence of family, peers, culture, media, technology, and other factors on health behavior.

  • Standard 3: Accessing Information, Products, and Services - Students will demonstrate the ability to access valid information, products, and services.

  • Standard 4: Interpersonal Communication - Students will demonstrate the ability to use interpersonal communication skills to enhance health and avoid or reduce health risks.

  • Standard 5: Decision-Making - Students will demonstrate the ability to use decision-making skills to enhance health.

  • Standard 6: Goal-Setting - Students will demonstrate the ability to use goal-setting skills to enhance health.

  • Standard 7: Self-Management - Students will demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors and avoid or reduce health risks.

  • Standard 8: Advocacy - Students will demonstrate the ability to advocate for personal, family, and community health.

While the primary focus of Health Education is the development of health skills, these skills must be addressed in conjunction with functional information in the context of Priority Risk Topics. Standards-based Health Education must be age and developmentally appropriate, medically accurate, and provide factual information in all Priority Risk Topics:

  • Mental and Emotional Health

  • Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

  • Personal Health and Wellness

  • Safety (Unintentional Injury Prevention)

  • Violence Prevention

  • Tobacco Use Prevention

  • Alcohol and Other Drug Use Prevention
  • Sexual Health and Responsibility

Note: Health Education in Pre-kindergarten is aligned to the Hawai‘i Early Learning and Development Standards (HELDS).

Course requirements for Health Education

  • Health Education is required in all elementary grades.
  • One semester of Health Education in each middle/intermediate school grade is strongly recommended but not required.
  • In high school, a one-semester course (0.5 credits) in Health Education is required for graduation.

Wellness Guidelines for Health Education and Nutrition Promotion

Health education and nutrition promotion provide the instructional foundation that is necessary to prepare students to make lifelong healthy decisions and practice healthy behaviors. This component area of the Wellness Guidelines includes school-wide promotion of nutritious meals and snacks as well as quality health education. Click for more information about the Department's Wellness Guidelines.

Guidelines for health education and nutrition promotion are organized around four key components:
  1. Instructional content of health education classes includes a focus on knowledge and skills that support healthy eating and is aligned with the Hawai‘i State Department of Education (HIDOE) standards for health education.
  2. Health education is provided to students in elementary grades at least 45 minutes per week and secondary grades at least 200 minutes per week.
  3. Nutrition education includes culturally relevant activities that are ‘aina-based and hands-on, such as food preparation, taste-testing, farm visits and school gardens.
  4. All school-based marketing of foods and beverages must meet the Nutrition Guidelines. This includes, but is not limited to, school publications, the exterior of vending machines, posters, banners, in-school televisions and scoreboards.

Ways schools promote good nutrition

  • Positive messages about nutritious foods are displayed on campus;
  • Vending machines for students are stocked with water only;
  • School meals are made from scratch as much as possible, including fresh baked whole-grain bread items;
  • No foods contain trans-fats;
  • Drinking water is available for free to students during meal times;
  • Classes are invited to visit the cafeteria kitchen to learn how to prepare healthy foods;
  • Healthy breakfast, lunch and snacks are promoted to students and their families; and
  • Instructional gardens demonstrate how food is grown.

Want to learn more about Health Education?

Additional information may be found in the following resources:

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. 

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1)  mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

1400 Independence Avenue,

SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)  fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3)  email: program.intake@usda.gov.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Contact Information

Health Education Program

Phone: (808) 305-9712

Email:  

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