Ban Cola? #Top 3 activity

Ban Cola?Now that scientists have discovered that sugar is like an addictive drug, pressure is building for action to reduce the amount of sugar that children and young people consume in sugary drinks. In this activity, students consider the evidence for causal links between sugar consumption, obesity and disease. They then weigh up arguments for and against banning sugary drink sales to under-18s.

Science objective

Digestion:  Describe possible health effects of unbalanced diets from data provided. Critique claims for a diet by analysing nutritional information (KS3 Science Syllabus)

Designed for the KS3 Science SyllabusEnquiry objective

Draw conclusions:  Know how to judge whether the conclusion is supported by the data (KS3 Science Syllabus)

Try the activity

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Curriculum link

England National Curriculum KS3:

  • Working Scientifically: Analysis and evaluation – interpret observations and data, including identifying patterns and using observations to draw conclusions.
  • Biology: Nutrition and Digestion – the consequences of imbalances in the diet, including obesity.

GCSE Combined Science subject content:

  • Working Scientifically: Analysis and evaluation – interpreting observations and other data, including identifying patterns and trends, making inferences and drawing conclusions.
  • Biology: Health, disease and the development of medicine – diseases influenced by nutrition.

Running the activity

Starter Sugar is addictive and causes obesity. Should we ban sugary drink sales to under-18s?
Core task Sort strong and weak evidence that sugar causes obesity. Decide whether there is enough evidence to ban sugary drink sales to under-18s.
Plenary Scientists can be more confident in a conclusion if there is a mechanism explaining a link between variables.
Extension Sort argument cards to decide whether to ban sugar drink sales to under-18s.
Plenary The decision on the ban cannot be based on science alone.
For detailed running notes, download the teachers guide.


Trailer to Fed Up movie

A trailer to the sensationalist film about the ubiquity of sugar in processed foods, and the impact of its excessive consumption on health.

How much sugar in coca-cola?

Jeremy Paxman of BBC’s Newsnight gives the European president of Coca-cola a hard time.

Action on sugar

Comprehensive list of links to current news items about sugar consumption from this group of UK-based academics.

Limit sugar intake

A news story about the latest advice to the government from scientific advisers. They suggest that the guideline level of dietary sugar should be slashed by half to the equivalent of one can of fizzy drink a day.

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  • violeta11 says:

    Coca Cola!

    A topic that can be used in various ways, actual and easy to follow.

  • namsc says:

    Naomi Colwell

    We used the Ban Cola activity as an introductory lesson to a Diet and Digestion topic in Year 8. The kids were well focused and enjoyed viewing the issues in a different way.

  • psyence says:


    This is a well thought out activity with plenty of scope for differentiation, it worked well with lower ability students (in PRU) and, with some extension tasks was also suitable for higher abilities!

  • maz75 says:


    Worked really well! Thank you so much.

  • sheila1 says:

    Ban cola

    This is an excellent topic. It can be applied to so many products on the market, and can bring out issues on economics, health, socialising.

  • missallsopp says:

    Worked great!

    Used this with a smaller STEM club. Great for getting a debate going on something that relates to them. Bought in different drinks and got them to choose which one they wanted and give reasons. Also followed on with looking at the caffeine in some fizzy drinks and its effects on reaction times.

  • Ale Okada says:

    Debate hub – This tool might be useful to help kids bring arguments from the web

  • bprayle says:


    A very topical subject. The materials in the resource pack are high quality and appropriate for KS3 class. I used this particular resource with Year 8 classes. The content prompted much discussion between the students.

    Availability is a key issue, but I would have preferred a UK video rather than US because some students get the idea that the problem is ‘over there’ whereas it it very much here.

  • mshahpal says:

    Ban Cola?

    This was a great lesson, as it opened up a lot of different aspects, from freedom, rights, being responsible and being more aware. The card sort activities gave students an opportunity to discuss and build on their understanding of what is strong or weak evidence. This last point was especially good, as it turned out to be a real eye opener for most.

  • adelita says:


    Very useful for a debate with young people.Thanks!

  • sueflewitt says:

    Ban cola?

    I used this with my year 11 students to develop their analysis and evaluation skills as part of the AQA Science GCSE, topic “keeping healthy”. My students are all low-med ability and this worked well to evaluate whether evidence was strong or weak, and engaged them well. The lesson plan was v detailed and was just what I needed! A useful resource, thanks

  • camillabwold says:

    Engaged but stubborn

    Tried this with top set Year 7, they were all very engaged and interested but they still wouldn’t be convinced by the evidence.

  • fugazinz says:

    Ban Cola

    Students interested – like their fizzy drinks. Awareness rising however with more drinking water.
    Was relevant as they see ‘comparisons” on news a lot.

  • pbrooks says:

    Useful for structuring a debate

    Cola is a good hook to engage young people and a the resource provided a good structure for the lesson.

  • rmackay says:

    Useful discussion task

    Students were thoroughly engaged even though they looked at all the evidence critically, many thought the taste was just too good to surrender.

    • Philippa says:

      Thank you!

      Thank you, rmacky – I’m glad the students were engaged and looked at the evidence critically! Interesting to hear the outcome, too. I wonder what students in other schools decided? Philippa, from the writing team.

  • leedspecks says:

    Engaging resource

    Students really got on board as most drink COla and the topic interested them. resources provided were good and gave them food for thought. I have shorter lessons so it worked well for me.

  • leedspecks says:

    Engaging resource

    Students really got on board as most drink COla and the topic interested them. resources provided were good and gave them food for thought.

    • Philippa says:

      Thank you!

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I’m really glad the students found this interesting! Philippa, from the writing team.

  • Gemma Young says:

    Video link

    Thanks for pointing out the problem you had with the video link. I have changed it using SafeShare so it should be fine to show in school now.

  • Biolojolly says:

    This lesson worked well but needs more content added to make up a full hour lesson.
    Beware of the video starter. I had tried this out at home with no problems but when I tried it at school I found the it was blocked. Luckily I tried it at school before I needed it. I just had to talk to the Network manager to get it unblocked. Apparently it is quite common that movie links are automatically blocked.