You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13 which are based on Reading Passage 1
The passage has eight paragraphs A-H.
Choose the correct heading for paragraphs C-H from the list of headings below.
Write the correct number i-x in boxes 1-5 on your Answer Sheet.
Good for you or not good for you? That is the question.
At no time in history has the world’s population ever been so well-informed about nutrition and health. Consumers in the developed world are constantly bombarded with advertising messages which promote the health benefits of a wide range of food products. However, they are also exposed to the constant promotion of junk food as well. Fast food companies have become sensitive to the criticisms they face over the potential damage their food causes and have begun to vigorously defend the nutritional value of the meals they serve. With this constant flow of messages – often contradictory – how are today’s consumers supposed to determine precisely what is healthy to eat?
According to nutritionist Susan McCaskill, many people today intend to eat healthily, but have become confused about how to do so. “It is not just that the traditional definitions of a healthy diet have changed, though this is certainly significant. Many grew up being told that the more milk you drank, the healthier you would be. Then dairy foods became ‘bad’ in the eyes of many health professionals and many people sought alternatives to it. Now these alternatives are coming under the same sort of criticism.”
The alternative McCaskill is referring to is soya milk. A generation of consumers who were labeled allergic to cow’s milk products embraced soya substitutes enthusiastically. In fact, the soya bean itself was promoted as a kind of miracle food overall. Claims were made it had the potential to not only provide all the protein required for a healthy diet, but that it could prevent heart disease and cancer. Slogans such as “It’s Soy Good for you…” began to appear in nutritional advice columns.
Now suddenly you can find messages on health-related websites claiming “It’s not soy good” and even “It’s SOY bad for you.” A generation of health-conscious eaters who previously abandoned milk products for soy are now worried and confused. The same chemicals (known as isoflavones) in soya beans which were claimed to fight cancer and other diseases are now listed as the cause of some cancers, and are also implicated in hormonal problems and thyroid gland disorders. Dr David Steinman of the Eastern Sydney University Medical School considers the praise of soya products in many alternative health circles to be without scientific foundation. “Soya proponents suggest we look to the health statistics of Asian countries as proof of the benefits of soy. When we look closely at the countries where soya products are consumed regularly, it is clear that though they are widely used, they are also eaten in very moderate quantities. Many people seeking a healthy diet today are eating ten times that much soy, particularly through drinking vast amounts of soya milk and eating other non-traditional foods such as soya-based ice-cream.”
Susan McCaskill considers the latest negative publicity about soy to be exaggerated, but she admits that it does raise some very relevant questions. “It still appears to me that soya beans have many notable nutritional benefits to offer, but the key thing here is moderation. What frequently happens now is that people go from eating much too much of one thing to eating too much of something else.”
Both McCaskill and Steinman concede that the recent soya controversy is just one example of how food fashions are confusing the health-conscious today. Red meat has often been blamed for high rates of heart disease and other health problems, then has been praised for its high iron content. Carbohydrate rich foods such as pasta, rice and potatoes have been promoted since the seventies as healthy staples of our diet, and then recently have received the blame for the growing numbers of people who are seriously overweight.
Dr Steinman echoes the words of McCaskill on one key point – moderation is the most significant factor in any healthy diet. However, he fears that modern obsessions with perfect food habits can simply leave people so discouraged that they give up completely. “If you rush to a new diet because you’ve been told your old one was bad, then find the new one has its own critics, what do you do next? I worry that many will simply stop thinking about healthy eating habits and head to the nearest fast food outlet.”
It is certainly undeniable that the fast food industry is booming. Whether this is because of confused and discouraged eaters of health food is difficult to determine. What is clear, however, is that advertisers are working harder and harder to influence the world’s eating habits, and that the needs of both health enthusiasts and fast food customers are now coming together: the fastest growing customer base in many major fast food chains is now people attracted by their new “healthy choices.” The question remains: who will decide in the end precisely what a healthy choice is?
This question is a sample from the IELTS Reading Module and is available when you enrol in the IELTS Master or IELTS Master Plus courses.