Ashley Seymour (‘22) described her experience in freshman health class as “damaging.” Seymour stated that the most prominent part of health class was the nutrition unit. In this unit of study, students were asked to choose a goal regarding their weight, then had to download the controversial app, “myfitnesspal,” and track each food they ate.
“Myfitnesspal” has been linked with eating disorders amongst teenagers, specifically teenage girls. For example, 75% of “myfitnesspal” users who struggle with eating disorders state that the app has advanced their disorders. This becomes a troubling statistic when 1 in every 10 high schoolers struggle with eating disorders.
According to Bellows Free Academy health teacher, Alisa Aylward, as of this year, this unit has been modified. Aylward said that she decided to make this change because so many students have “food insecurities and eating issues.”
According to Aylward, the health curriculum still includes a nutrition unit where instead of tracking food and trying to “fix” their own diet, students are given imaginary diets and must add and/or reduce key elements of this imaginary diet. Students also look at essential nutrients such as fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
Aylward said she also uses resources such as MyPlate to help instruct students on healthy eating but makes it clear that everyone has different nutritional needs.
Aylward stated, “I would never tell someone they can’t have cheesecake because I love cheesecake.”
Instead of limiting food options, Aylward focuses on teaching about serving sizes. According to Aylward, “it’s about being healthy in the body that you’re already in.”
Although BFA’s health curriculum may have been toxic in the past, there looks to be positive changes occurring to support a more inclusive environment.