The impact on teachers of designing and implementing a Health at Every Size curriculum unit
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with growing concern over the ‘obesity epidemic’ in children, schools have become the front line of defence in the ‘war against obesity’. However there is a growing body of evidence of unintended harm associated with school-based health education programs framed as ‘obesity prevention’, including body dissatisfaction, eating and physical activity disorders and size-based bullying, harassment, violence and discrimination. An alternative paradigm known as Health at Every Size (HAES) aims to avoid such unintended negative consequences and to promote holistic health and well being. A HAES focused curriculum unit was designed and implemented at a school in Queensland, Australia. The impact of the project on students and teachers was evaluated. This paper reports on the results of classroom observations and individual semi- structured interviews, which were used to collect qualitative data about the impact on teachers. There was a substantial and positive impact on teachers’ knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and teaching skills. The HAES paradigm enabled teachers to design and implement a curriculum unit consistent with the holistic, ecological (social) model of health and syllabus requirements, and have a positive impact on student learning and teaching practice.