Teaching the topic of diversity and social conditions in the English speaking world in historical contexts

Diversity and social conditions

Lesson plan

In this lesson plan, students will read articles from the USA and Great Britain. Topics covered are the different countries’ health care systems, obesity in the population, hunger and poverty and well-being in the population.

  1. Read the articles below and decide on a topic you want to explore.
  2. Look at the picture of well-being in the UK and comment on it. What has changed since this was written at the beginning av 2018?
  3. In groups of three make a quick summary of the important parts
  4. Read the article about poverty in the UK and the USA compare the two countries. Discuss in groups of 3 and use the numbers you find in the articles.
  5. Decide on how to present the material, choices could be blog articles, podcasts, or radio shows. If you choose a radio show be sure to have one host, one expert on the UK, and one expert on the USA.

Why has Britain suffered more than 100,000 Covid deaths?

In this article from the Guardian, they discuss obesity in light of the high number of Covid deaths.

Health of the nation

Britain went into the Covid-19 pandemic in poor health in some key areas. In 2018, the proportion of adults who were obese had already reached 28%, having almost doubled over 25 years. Morbid obesity tripled over the same period.

The NHS has identified obesity as a cause of clinical vulnerability to Covid. After Boris Johnson was hospitalized with Covid in April, he remarked he was “way overweight” and soon after he was discharged he launched a national anti-obesity campaign.

Diabetes, another key comorbidity was also rising. At the start of 2020 3.9 million people had a diagnosis – up 100,000 on the previous year. Britain also had a substantial elderly population, although a smaller proportion of over-65s than European neighbors such as France and Germany. But with people aged 80 or older 70 times more likely to die than those under 40, the country’s elderly were at risk and the most vulnerable were not properly shielded. Read more here. 

U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective, 2019: Higher Spending, Worse Outcomes?

This article in the commonwealth fund discusses how the U.S ends up spending more money on health care as a share of the economy and still has the lowest life expectancy compared to 10 other high-income countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.


  • The U.S. spends more on health care as a share of the economy — nearly twice as much as the average OECD country — yet has the lowest life expectancy and highest suicide rates among the 11 nations.
  • The U.S. has the highest chronic disease burden and an obesity rate that is two times higher than the OECD average.
  • Americans had fewer physician visits than peers in most countries, which may be related to a low supply of physicians in the U.S.
  • Americans use some expensive technologies, such as MRIs, and specialized procedures, such as hip replacements, more often than our peers.
  • The U.S. outperforms its peers in terms of preventive measures — it has the one of the highest rates of breast cancer screening among women ages 50 to 69 and the second-highest rate (after the U.K.) of flu vaccinations among people age 65 and older.
  • Compared to peer nations, the U.S. has among the highest number of hospitalizations from preventable causes and the highest rate of avoidable deaths.

Read the whole article here.

Millions of hungry Americans turn to food banks for 1st time

Hunger is a harsh reality in the richest country in the world. Even during times of prosperity, schools hand out millions of hot meals a day to children, and desperate elderly Americans are sometimes forced to choose between medicine and food. Read the whole article here.

Largest Increase In U.S. Poverty Recorded In 2020

Due to the coronavirus pandemic’s decimation of the labor market and the months-long expiration of benefits from the government relief package keeping families afloat, the poverty rate in the United States surged from 9.3% in June to 11.7% in November 2020. Source;  Forbes, read the whole article here.

Look at the pictures and numbers here and discuss the different states in the US and the poverty rate today.

Free school meals in the UK for children

Labour has also called for the current system of term-time school food parcels and vouchers to be scrapped and replaced by direct cash payments of £15 a week paid via the benefits system to the parents of pupils on free meals.“The government should put its trust in parents by giving them the money for free school meals to ensure their children are not going hungry,” said Kate Green, the shadow education secretary.The National Education Union (NEU) warned of a “logistical nightmare” for holiday provision and said disadvantaged families could end up missing out under the winter grant scheme as a result of the switch in provision via schools to councils.Kevin Courtney, NEU joint general secretary, said: “It is simply astonishing that the government has, once again, revealed its total disregard for those hardest hit by the ongoing health pandemic … The ugly specter of holiday hunger is now looming yet again.”The Local Government Association (LGA) said the winter grant was never intended to replace free school meals and urged ministers to continue to provide food vouchers to eligible families during half-term. Read the whole article here.

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