A Math Exam Asked Students To Count Calories In A Woman's Meal

by Christina Marfice
Originally Published: 
Caiaimage/Chris Ryan/Getty and Twitter

School officials refused to remove a problematic math exam question about counting calories

Students sitting for a summer math exam in the U.K. were shocked when one of the questions asked them to calculate the total number of calories in a woman’s breakfast. This is problematic for about one million different reasons, so let’s just get into it.

“There are 84 calories in 100g of banana. There are 87 calories in 100g of yogurt. Priti has 60g of banana and 150g of yogurt for breakfast. Work out the total number of calories in this breakfast,” the question read. It was included in a GCSE exam, which is required for all 16-year-olds in the country to take.

So here’s the first reason this isn’t OK, and the reason many students have been complaining about the question. Calculating the caloric value of small amounts of food like this is a common behavior for people with eating disorders, and reading that question could easily trigger anyone who has or has had an ED.

On a mandatory test for 16-year-olds, this is remarkably tone deaf. Anorexia is the third most common chronic disease for adolescents, and 95 percent of people who suffer from eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25, which means 16 is a prime age for this question to be triggering or otherwise harmful.

One student told the Telegraph she had to leave the room because the question caused her to panic.

“I read the question and it bought back so many memories of counting calories, it put me into a panic where I had to leave the room for about five minutes and a teaching assistant calmed me down,” she said.

That in itself is reason enough for this question to get scrapped. But let’s do the math.

If you calculate it, the answer is 180.9 calories — 50.4 for the banana and 130.5 for the yogurt. In the question, it states that this is a woman’s breakfast. Her whole ass breakfast. Less than 200 calories is not enough for breakfast — hell, it’s barely a snack. Anyone eating that for their first “meal” of the day is gonna have a blood sugar crash from hell by about 9:30 a.m. Sending the message that this is a healthy amount for a grown woman to eat in the morning is pretty seriously messed up — and this test is sending that message to a bunch of growing teenagers who actually need to be eating more at age 16 than they will at any other point in their life.

Complaints about the question prompted school officials to investigate, but ultimately, they decided the question is “valid.”

Never mind that there are a million other ways kids can demonstrate their knowledge of cross-multiplying fractions. This will apparently stay on the test.

Our hearts go out to all the kids who see this question and are negatively impacted by it. We can only hope the alarm that’s being raised online is enough for school officials to revisit their decision and do their damn job, which is to give kids a safe learning environment.

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