‘Health’ has become a major concern of policy makers internationally in recent years, especially where and when it is reduced to a measurable and, therefore, comparable commodity/’quality’: weight and obesity levels. Schools in many countries have increasingly been charged with responsibility for safeguarding children’s health, ensuring that they eat the right foods, exercise sufficiently, and either lose or maintain ‘ideal weight’. The authors are concerned to highlight that the success of any educational strategy is likely to depend as much on what schools or teachers do, as on what students themselves bring to the ‘learner encounter’ in the way of cultural predispositions and levels of socio-economic, financial and political resource. Drawing on data from research examining the impact of new ‘health imperatives’ on schools within the United Kingdom, they explore connections between the corporal and corporeal, and the recontextualising processes that occur as health imperatives flow across and within multiple sites of discourse and are translated into pedagogies and school policies which may have impact upon the subjectivities of young people. Concepts drawn from Bernstein and others that have become central to the authors’ work illustrate how individual pupils’ needs, interests, abilities and desires are interrelated with, and affected by, the various cultural settings and pedagogies they experience at home, at school, in their peer groups and other social settings.