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Teachers' resources – Programme notes

Making Changes

Background information
Curriculum relevance


This programme aims to extend students' awareness of factors that affect health and wellbeing, focusing more on positive factors, and introduces the concept of health improvement. This programme builds upon programme 3, identifying different views of 'health', and the lifestyle and behavioural choices of individuals from five of the featured families. The underlying theme is 'how can people improve their fitness and wellbeing?'.

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'Making changes' focuses on the health beliefs, behaviours and improvement goals of the following individuals:

  • Cathy Froud commits herself to giving-up smoking, and compiles a video-diary of her progress in completing a smoking cessation programme.
  • Mark Tanner demonstrates his exercise programme whilst Sylvia Turner discusses her goal of losing weight and embarks on a three-day diet.
  • Hasina Miah is seeking to increase her energy levels and lose weight. She begins a slimming programme.
  • Ada and Phyllis discuss their ideas about 'health' and their reluctance to restrict their diet for health purposes.
  • Angela and Peris Eyres discuss their attitudes to health, diet and exercise. Angela explains how she makes dietary choices on behalf of her children. Peris and her friends give a teenage perspective on diet, exercise and fitness.
  • Karen Moncholi discusses diet and exercise as important factors in promoting her family's health.

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Background information


Balanced diet and health

  • A number of the programme participants make associations between 'health' and diet.
  • A healthy intake of food is commonly referred to as a balanced diet. This should include foods made up of appropriate amounts of the five basic nutrients.

    • 'Carbohydrates' and 'fats' provide the body with energy.
    • 'Proteins' provide the chemical substances needed to build and repair body cells and tissues.
    • 'Vitamins' help to regulate the chemical reactions that continuously take place in our bodies.
    • 'Minerals' are needed for control of body function and to build and repair certain tissues.

  • Individual factors, including age, gender, body size, height, weight and the amount of physical activity a person does determines what is 'healthy' for each of us.
  • Dietary intake also varies according to a person's life stage.
  • Good nutrition is very important for babies and infants to promote physical growth and development and to prevent illness.
  • Children and adolescents also need the right kinds of food to promote their physical growth and to provide 'fuel' or energy for their higher levels of physical activity.
  • Diet is increasingly seen as a health issue for children, teenagers and adults who consume foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar.
  • Excessive consumption of these foods combined with a lack of exercise leads to weight gain. This is the primary 'health' concern of a number of the participants.

Exercise and health

  • Exercise is beneficial because it:

    • keeps the heart healthy
    • improves circulation
    • helps muscles, joints and bones to remain strong
    • improves stamina
    • reduces blood pressure
    • increases self-esteem and self-confidence
    • helps to control and maintain weight
    • increases energy levels
    • helps the body to stay supple and mobile

  • Lack of physical exercise is linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, obesity and osteoporosis (brittle bones).
  • Obesity is now a major health problem in the United Kingdom.

Body mass index (BMI)

  • BMI can be used to assess whether a person is a 'healthy' weight.
  • BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared. This produces a number in the following ranges:

    • below 20 – underweight
    • 20 to 25 – normal
    • 25 to 35 – overweight
    • over 30 – obese

Health improvement and target setting

  • Health improvement programmes should begin with thorough and honest individual health assessment. This involves collecting basic health-related information and also measuring physical health indicators.
  • Hasina's careful weight loss programme demonstrates this best in the programme. Her slimming advisor collects baseline (starting point) measures from which to work and sets a number of targets for improvement.
  • Targets should be safe, realistic and achievable. 'Crash diets' and exercise binges don't work (Sylvia Tanner provides an example of this).
  • A clear plan with short, medium and long-term targets that are periodically reviewed and modified is more likely to succeed.
  • Any health improvement plan should take a person's age and physical characteristics into account, both when conducting the health assessment and in recommending the strategies for improvement.

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Curriculum Relevance

  • This programme links to Unit 2 Promoting health and wellbeing, particularly the topics of positive factors contributing to health and health improvement.
  • The participants tend to think of 'health' in terms of eating a balanced diet, or 'healthy', and being an appropriate weight.
  • Hasina Miah, Angela Eyres and Karen Moncholi all discuss the importance of eating 'healthy food' as a feature of their own and their family's health behaviour.
  • Cathy Froud sees giving up smoking as a means of improving her physical health and sense of wellbeing. The programme follows her unsuccessful attempt to give-up entirely.
  • Indicators of physical health are covered through reference to appropriate weight in the sections on Hasina and Sylvia.
  • Methods of assessment and target-setting to improve health in a planned way are illustrated in the sections where Hasina consults and returns to see a slimming advisor.

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  1. Ask students to identify the extent to which they believe each of the programme participants are 'healthy'. They could be asked to score each of the main participants on a scale where 10 = extremely healthy and 1 = extremely unhealthy. Either before or following the programme encourage them to think about emotional, social and intellectual wellbeing in addition to physical 'health'.

    Comparing and discussing ideas provides a good basis for learning points to be made about different ways of thinking about 'health', and about the different components of 'health' and 'wellbeing'.

  2. Ask students to record the pulse rates, height and weight of two volunteers and to complete the table below with their findings. They should then identify how these health measures could be used as part of a health improvement plan.

    Person Person Pulse (bpm) Height Weight BMI

  3. Students could be asked to develop a simple but realistic plan for improving an aspect of their own health and wellbeing – or an aspect of a (willing) class partner's -over a one-month period. They should be asked to:

    1. provide appropriate information about the health-related aspects of their own health, or obtain relevant information about their volunteer's lifestyle. They should also record a couple of basic physical measures of health: height, weight and pulse might be suitable
    2. identify aspects of their own or their volunteer's health that they believe could be improved over the next month
    3. set a couple of short, simple and achievable health improvement targets.
    4. identify ways of reaching the targets and the possible barriers (see Cathy Froud's example) to achieving them
    5. you may want to encourage students to implement the health improvement plans as experiential learning – though the key points here are about baseline assessment and target setting

More lesson ideas

Click here for more lesson ideas

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Teenage health issues
Weight and health
Smoking cessation

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