Students begin by watching an inspiring video about a school with a very healthy canteen. They learn about everyday foods and occasional foods under the NSW Healthy Schools Canteens Strategy. After considering the idea that their school canteen should have 75% everyday foods and 25% occasional foods, students undertake research in a visit to their own school canteen researching everyday foods and occasional foods and sugar content. Classes can also invite the principal to come and talk to them about the best way to make changes to the school canteen. The lesson ends with students suggesting five improvements that could be made to the foods and drinks provided by their school canteen, and drafting a letter to the relevant body within their school.
- understand how to collect and evaluate data
- understand how to identify trends
- understand issues and challenges related to sugars and health in the context of the school canteen
- collect basic data about the menu of their school canteen
- evaluate whether food is healthy or unhealthy
- identify occasional and everyday foods, understanding that everyday foods are a healthier option
Lesson guides and printables
These lessons were developed in partnership with SugarByHalf and the Australian Dental Association. Guardians of the Gums was written by Bee Healthy Stories; if you would like to see more of their stories, head to beehealthystories.com.au.
SugarByHalf (https://www.sugarbyhalf.com/) promotes action to reduce sugar-related diseases so that we can live better, stronger and healthier lives.
Their message is simple: to reduce added sugar consumption by half. Eating too much added sugar is a key driver of serious health problems including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay, dementia and mental health conditions. A poor diet also puts children behind their peers, affecting brain development, sleep and ability to learn. Poor diet choices ultimately mean that this generation of children could be the first in modern history to live shorter lives than their parents.
Much of the added sugar in our diet comes from the processed foods and drinks we consume. On average, we consume 14-16 teaspoons of added sugar per day. Teenagers consume more than 20 teaspoons per day. The World Health Organisation says we should limit our daily added sugar intake to 6 teaspoons for good health. To put that in perspective, there are 4 grams of sugar in one teaspoon. If something has 20 grams of sugar, that's 5 teaspoons of sugar.
This English lesson focuses on developing the skills and knowledge students need to critically consider messages about food and drink they are exposed to, thereby equipping them to be able to make healthy choices.
Talking about health
- Be mindful of students who may experience weight stigma. Some students may be sensitive to conversations around weight, body size or shape. Terms including obesity, weight issues, weight-problem and fat can be stigmatising for some people because they assign blame. It is important to note individual preferences around language vary. Research has shown using the terms ‘weight’, ‘weight gain’, ‘healthy weight’, ‘unhealthy weight’, and ‘high BMI’ are preferred as better alternatives.
- Be mindful about how you use the word ‘diet’. We recommend focussing students on the positive impacts of healthy nutrition and healthy lifestyles which help us to have stronger bodies and minds, feel good and sleep well.
- Steer students away from any focus on appearances by communicating that appearance does not determine your worth. We recommend the fact sheets from the Butterfly Foundation on body image tips at
- Avoid using labels such as obese or diabetic. Refer to people living with diabetes, people living with cancer, people with high BMI etc.