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Food and Nutrition: Drinks, drinks, everywhere

Students require opportunities to explore choices that reflect health-enhancing attitudes towards nutrition and to evaluate the effectiveness of different options.

Suggested learning outcomes

Students will:

  • investigate ways in which advertising can influence their health-related choices (5D1);
  • identify ways in which their choices about what to drink can be influenced by their peers and use this information to make better-informed choices (5C1);
  • explore their available options for what to drink and evaluate the consequences of some choices for their health (6A1);
  • investigate and explain why people choose to consume foods and drinks that may have negative effects on their physical well-being (6A1).

Socio-ecological perspective: Identifying and reflecting on the influences on people's choices and behaviours.

Attitudes and values: Developing positive and responsible attitudes towards making informed choices and strengthening their commitment to making choices that enhance people's health.

Possible learning activities

Ask the students to bring a collection of empty containers that have held non-alcoholic drinks (or a collection of advertisements for such drinks) to school. They should collect as wide a range of drink containers as possible, including cans, bottles, pouches, and cartons for fruit juices, traditional fizzy drinks, smart drinks, power drinks, sports drinks, herbal drinks, varieties of water, flavoured milk, and yoghurt drinks.

In small groups, the students categorise the drinks. They could simply place the empty containers in groups or construct a chart to classify them. Each group then presents its set of categories to the class, discussing any difficulties that occurred during classification and defining the terms they use (if these are unclear).

The students answer the following questions, recording their answers on a sheet of paper.

  • Which of the identified drinks do you like?
  • What is it that you like about them?
  • When do you drink them?
  • About how many soft drinks do you drink per week?
  • Who buys them and how much do they cost?
  • Which is your favourite among the drinks that you like?
  • Why are there so many types of drinks?
  • Are there any that you would like to try but haven't yet? If so, which are they?

Put the sheets of paper up around the classroom and give the students time to read them all. Then display and discuss the overhead transparencies on pages 30-31 of Choice Action that show the increases in consumption of a particular soft drink and also the increases in what the company has spent on advertising.

Give each student a piece of paper with a line down the middle. On one side, they write the reasons why young people drink sports drinks and, on the other side, they write the reasons why manufacturers produce them. For example, they could write: "to look cool", "they like them", "they're better than the others", "to make money", or "kids want them".

Provide the students with copies of the Food Labels poster from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (see page 61 for contact details) and the Ministry of Health's Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Adolescents, or refer to the Appendix. The information in these resources will enable the students to analyse the contents of specific drinks. Ask each group to examine a different drink-container label and to describe the health implications for people who consume this drink regularly.

Working in groups, the students draw up guidelines for people who buy these drinks. They add a section with positive recommendations for young people of their own age about what to drink for a healthy body. These guidelines could be submitted to the school food shop to use when deciding on drinks to be sold in the school.