Teaching pupils about food and health headlines.

We are constantly bombarded with news headlines and features which seem to give opposing views on food and health related messages. It can be quite daunting as a food teacher to keep up to date with changing guidelines and campaigns.

In the last two years we have been introduced to both the Action on Sugar http://www.actiononsugar.org/     and  Action on Salt http://www.actiononsalt.org.uk campaigns and need to be well equipped to pass these messages onto our pupils. We are experienced at this; for years we have taught about  the key messages of the eat well plate and the five a day programme. This year the Sugar Rush  campaign (forefronted by  Jamie Oliver) has meant that sugar is a popular topic and it is important that we as food teachers can distinguish between unrefined sugars, free sugars , natural sugars etc

The beginning of a new year is a time when we are exposed to many of these messages with the words “clean” “detox” “lean” “weight” featuring often in the media. I find that Twitter is extremely useful for CPD and I like to follow dietitians and academics who know what they are talking about and base their blogs and articles on up to date scientific evidence . I recently read this very insightful blog by Helen West who is a registered dietitian and I intend to use some of the points raised as inspiration for a lesson on evidence based practice with my A level pupils.



I also follow Priya Tew and Lucy Jones on Twitter who are both registered dietitians who present their information in an easy to understand or easy to relate  way.

Another resource which I rely on heavily is Complete Nutrition magazine. It is excellent and my pupils and I regularly dissect articles and tease out important bits of information which may be useful for answering exam questions with up to date facts. The editor and her team were very keen to support the #save A level Food Campaign and kindly published this letter in support of the work we do as food teachers.


Click to access CNLetters-SaveFoodALevel.pdf

This month, CN has excellent articles on salt, saturated fat and an insightful one written by Dr Gleny Jones on evidence based practice.Again I will use this in my lessons to teach about the importance of not just reading a headline and making assumptions.

Leonie Milliner, Chief Executive of the Association for Nutrition (AfN) often raises awareness of the need to use reliable data both on Twitter and in her articles.

Other sites which I refer to often are the NHS website, NICE website (https://www.nice.org.uk/) and the Food Standards Agency and the Association of UK dietitians.  https://www.bda.uk.com/

It matters that we as teachers give reliable information to our students and the need to be well read on current issues is paramount. Why? Because as food teachers we teach pupils who eventually leave school to become health professionals such doctors, nurses,  nutritionist, dietitians, dentists. We also teach teachers of the future but probably most importantly we teach parents of the future. We have a responsibility to teach accurate messages but we are also lucky that we get the opportunity to allow our pupils to apply these messages in a practical way through cooking. Sadly the government plan to remove A level Food Education yet ironically they are calling for parenting lessons today.Its a shame that they cannot realize the many benefits of teaching food to A level pupils in our society.

Feel free to comment or email me at foodandhealthteacher@hotmail.com if you would like to discuss this blog further.

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