Oregon high school student speaks out against middle school health assignment

OREGON, Wis. (WMTV) -- An Oregon high school sophomore is speaking out against an eighth grade health assignment she said can lead to low self-esteem.

The assignment, given by health classes in Oregon Middle School, requires students to track their calories using the app MyFitnessPal. Becker said the assignment also requires students to change their eating habits during the second half.

"It's very like, 'There's something wrong with your eating,' instead of, 'This is what healthy eating looks like,'" Becker said.

Two years ago, Becker completed the assignment herself, and she said she became obsessed with counting calories.

"A lot of the times I felt like was undeserving of food, and so the numbers were a way for me to track how much I deserved for the day," she explained.

Becker continues to struggle with food-related obsessive compulsive disorder and disordered eating. She said the assignment contributed to those issues because it had a negative impact on how she viewed food.

Becker also said the assignment is unfair to students who come from families who cannot afford the cost of healthier food or who do not have consistent access to a smartphone of Internet.

Becker wanted to make sure her experience does not happen to anyone else, so she wrote a petition to end the assignment.

Instead of the assignment, Becker thinks teachers could us fictional characters as example to teach nutrition, instead of making it personal.

"Just anything that would keep it away from the individual," she said.

Over 800 people have signed the petition.

"I'm just so proud of the community for deciding that this is something that we want to take a stand on," Becker said.

Beyond the assignment, Becker also hopes sharing her own struggles will encourage others to ask for help.

"I know a lot of people suffer in silence, and I don't wish that upon anyone," she said.

Becker told NBC15 the Oregon School District said they plan to review the assignment for the 2020-21 school year. NBC15 reached out to the district for more information but did not immediately hear back.