Healthy Living: Student Nutritionists Share Some Surprisingly Unhealthy Foods

As unhealthy food and sedentary lifestyles become more and more widespread, it’s vital that students and adults alike are aware of ways to stave off unhealthy habits and the consequences that they bring. As part of a recent project, a group of Year 10 IGCSE students took it upon themselves to promote the message of healthy eating to Year 3 YCIS Beijing students, educating them on healthy and unhealthy foods to help ensure they make the right dietary choices when they’re older.

We spoke with this class of Year 10 students to hear more about their activity, plus gain some insights of our own on what foods presumed healthy we should try to cut out of our diet.

Please introduce the workshop that you led the Year 3’s in. What activities did you lead? What subjects did you discuss?

For the past month, our Global Perspectives class has been working on a group project for our IGCSE Global Perspectives portfolio. We chose, after a lot of research and debate, the topic of healthy diet and raising awareness about the topic. We decided we wanted to lead an activity in the school to raise awareness. The Year 3 workshop involved a couple of activities to see what they are aware of and see what they don’t know, and to help them become aware of this topic and the issues surrounding it from an earlier age.

We led three activities. First, we split them into groups, and they had to draw a food of their choice with their group without telling anyone else. They then came up to the board and the others had to guess what they might have drawn. We also drew a food pyramid on the whiteboard with different sections, like protein, vegetables, junk food, etc. The kids came up one by one to stick various foods on the board in the section they thought the food belonged in.

Last, we split the room in half. One corner was the yes section the other the no section. We asked the kids questions about whether or not a food was healthy, then they’d divide themselves according to whether they thought it was healthy or not. These were great activities as they inspired a lot of debate amongst the kids!

What surprised you most about working with the kids?

How difficult it was to control them! I knew that because they’re Year 3’s that they were going to be a bit out of hand, but it exceeded expectations. We spent as much time keeping them on task as teaching them about nutrition.

What are some specific foods that were surprisingly unhealthy?

Lots of breakfast foods aren’t that healthy. Cereal, granola, dried fruits, juice, etc., are all less healthy than you’d think because of all the sugar in them. One example is corn flakes; they don’t seem extremely sweet or harmful, but it turns out there’s basically no nutrition in them.

Most soft drinks contain more sugar than you’re supposed to consume in one day. We know lots of classmates who drink soft drinks often, so you can imagine just how much excessive sugar they’re consuming.

In China, we learned that excessive consumption of oil and lots of carbs, like white rice and mantou, has affected the obesity rate in China.

In the end, we learned that it’s really important to know what’s in the food you’re eating. Don’t just assume that something is healthy because you think it is or someone told you it is.

In addition to sharing valuable nutritional advice with their younger peers, the workshop was a valuable learning experience for the Year 10 presenters as well. Their teacher, IGCSE Humanities teacher Niall Quinn, explained the importance of the project:

My students learned how to speak in front of a large crowd of kids and attempt to control them, a new experience and one that helped their development. As it was also a group project, there was a constant feeling of progression and collaboration.

The buildup during the planning stage made them think quite a lot. We conducted activities in class where the group had to put themselves in the minds of the 6-7 year olds, deciding what images to include, what teaching methods would be best, and predicting what they would already know. That was a really great way to develop their critical thinking skills. It also taught them a lot in terms of planning an event or workshop as well, getting resources together, coordinating with the Year 3 teachers, etc.

Finally, it also demonstrated the strong bilingual element running through YCIS Beijing in our school all the way through. We split the groups into native English- and Chinese-speakers so that kids could learn to their strengths, plus divide them into more manageable numbers. The Secondary School kids could easily have swapped language groups, so it was a true testament to the success of our bilingual focus.

Learn more about our IGCSE programme by visiting our IGCSE homepage.

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