Health credit addition would help students

According to the National Library of Medicine, students who take nutrition classes in college or before are more likely to have a positive self and body image.

According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), students who take nutrition classes in college or before are more likely to have a positive self and body image. In a world where many teenagers, especially teen girls, harbor increasingly negative views about themselves and their appearance, any chance for a positive impact on this should be taken immediately. Berkeley High School needs to switch from a system of PE credits to one of health credits, in order to benefit the body and self image of its students.

BHS’ current PE credit system requires students to take two years of PE classes, be on a sports team for four semesters, or sign up for a PE waiver. While there are a multitude of options available for students, some put off getting their credits, leading to a collective panic towards the end of their junior and senior years.

An alternative to this system would be one that requires health credits, as opposed to PE credits. Students could get their credits through the same ways as PE credits, like a sports team or PE class, but they would also have the option of taking health or nutrition classes instead.

If BHS were to offer health and nutrition classes to students, that would not only benefit those who aren’t interested in sports, but it would also help to increase the self image of students who struggle with it. Organizations like the California Department of Education (CDE), Nutrition Services Division (NSD), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) strongly encourage schools to offer nutrition classes to students in grades K-12, as the evidence overwhelmingly shows that nutrition education benefits students’ lives now, and even in the future.

However, this is not to say that the current PE credits system is bad. According to Harvard Health Publishing, exercise reduces the levels of stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, and increases endorphin production, making athletes happier overall. 

“It sort of increases school community and gets more people into things that they might not have otherwise tried,” Magnolia Hougan, one of BHS’ Commissioners of Health and Athletics, stated. According to Hougan, some students start a sport just for the PE credits but keep up with it because they grow a passon for it.

However, a health credit system would still allow for this to happen. Students who don’t want to use up one of their class periods to take a nutrition/health class would have the option of joining a sports team, signing up for a PE waiver, or doing any of the options currently available to students. Additionally, nutrition classes improve student mental health. It would be up to the students in question to decide which option would work best for them – adding the option of health credits would simply give the student body more options.

All students at BHS, even those who wouldn’t take a health class, would be benefitted by replacing the PE credit system with a health credit system, as it would allow for more options and benefit the mental health of the student body as a whole.