Pupils complain that calorie-counting question on their maths GCSE paper was a ‘trigger’ for those with eating disorders
- Edexcel faced complaints last week over the problem, which challenged pupils to work out the number of calories in a breakfast
- One critic claimed her sister had to leave the exam after reading the question because she was ‘a recovering anorexic’
- Pearson – the company behind Edexcel – defended the question as ‘valid’, but urged students to get in touch if they believed it had impacted them
Exam board Edexcel is facing complaints over a maths problem that challenged pupils to work out the number of calories in a breakfast.
A number of students took to social media to say the question could encourage eating disorders.
Pearson – the company behind Edexcel – defended the question as ‘valid’, but urged students to get in touch if they believed it had impacted their performance.
One critic claimed her sister had to leave the exam after reading the question because she was ‘a recovering anorexic’.
Another criticised the board for posing a question about calorie counting to ‘the age group most likely to suffer’ from eating disorders.
Edexcel faced complaints last week over the problem, which challenged pupils to work out the number of calories in a breakfast, with students saying it could encourage eating disorders. Stock image
The question appeared in Edexcel’s calculator paper, which was sat by candidates on Thursday 6 June, the Times Educational Supplement reported.
It read: ‘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.’
One angry sibling said on social media: ‘A girl called ‘pretty’ was counting her calories after eating a banana and the kids had to work out how much she had eaten…my sister is a recovering anorexic who had to leave the exam due to this.’
A pupil added online that the question had been ‘triggering’ – or worrying – for her and that the calories were ‘not enough to eat for a breakfast’.
Another pupil added: ‘One of the questions in my maths exam triggered me.
‘IT WAS ABOUT CALORIES AND I JUST WANTED TO CRY BC [because of] HOW LOW I’VE BEEN FEELING ABOUT MY BODY.’
And a fourth critic, called Poppy Willow, said: ‘What on earth you were thinking by having a question around counting calories.
‘Your exams are primarily taken by 15-20 year olds, who are also the age group most likely to suffer from eating disorders!’
In a tweet published this afternoon, Pearson said: ‘In a maths exam taken last week, candidates were asked to solve a practical problem calculating the number of calories in a banana and a yoghurt.
‘We have reviewed the question and find it to be valid. We encourage any student who thinks that this question may have impacted their performance to get in contact with us via the school.
‘We understand the summer exam series is a stressful time for students and we wish all students every success with their remaining exams.’
Tom Quinn, a director at the eating disorder charity Beat told The Telegraph that references to counting calories ‘can be triggering’ for anyone with or recovering from an eating disorder.
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