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IELTS READING LEVEL 5.5 – Food for Thought

Food for Thought


You’re sitting in your last class before lunch, daydreaming about sinking your teeth into a juicy hamburger and golden fries. That big, soft brownie would taste scrumptious too.

Hold on! The hamburger served in your cafeteria isn’t an all-beef patty but a blueberry burger. The fries are actually baked, low-salt sweet-potato wedges. There is no brownie for dessert today. Instead, how about a nice granola bar? What’s happened to your school lunch? It’s getting a more nutritious makeover.

More and more kids around the United States are overweight and out of shape. Experts say that 15 out of every 100 American children aged 6 to 11 weigh more than they should. The experts blame poor diets and lack of exercise. Research shows that many overweight kids become overweight adults with chronic diseases.

To combat that problem, schools around the country are making an effort to change kids’ eating habits by offering more healthful choices at lunchtime.

These guidelines will help you build healthful eating patterns and take action for good health.


Out With the Bad

Many school districts in the United States have already banned vending machines that sell soft drinks and other junk foods. Some people want the U.S. Congress to improve the federal school lunch program.

The program, run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, feeds 27 million children every day. Nutritionists, however, say those lunches are too fatty and have too many calories. They want lawmakers to change the federal department’s guidelines for school lunches.

Some schools are so concerned with the health of their students that they are not waiting for Congress to act. For example, school officials in New York City are cutting the amount of sugar, fat, and salt in school lunches.

That means beef ravioli, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, and ice cream might disappear from lunch trays. Instead, cafeterias will offer vegetables five days a week.


Fresh Approach

Food that is good for you doesn’t have to taste bad. Just ask the students at Brekke School in Oxnard, California. Students there can now choose from a menu of only healthful food items. Nothing is fried. Fizzy, sugary soft drinks are out. Skim milk and juices are in.

The school serves giant tacos made with soft tortilla shells, not the hard, deep-fried kind. Toppings include lettuce, broccoli, and refried beans.

At Carmel High School in Carmel, Indiana, Caitlin Galligan, 17, thinks it’s a good idea for school lunches to be healthful and tasty. “I eat the school lunch every day, and I usually choose the hot entree,” she said. “I like the food.”

Other students disagree. “Teens want to eat fries and fattier stuff,” Erin Meyer, a pizza-loving, soda-drinking tenth grader in Atlanta, recently told a reporter from the Cox News Service. “They don’t care if it’s good for you.”


Berry Good Burgers?

Erin probably wouldn’t like one food item that may soon debut on many school lunch menus– the blueberry burger. Researchers in Maine are stirring a blueberry mixture into beef, chicken, and turkey patties to boost the sandwich’s nutritional content. Health experts say blueberries make burgers juicier and tastier. As a bonus, blueberries contain a cancer-fighting substance.

If blueberries aren’t to your liking, how about prunes? Some students in Colorado, Maryland, and Florida are biting into burgers that contain that fruit. School kids in 17 other states eat cherry burgers.

“You don’t see the cherry, and you don’t taste the cherry,” said Ray Pleva, a Michigan butcher who makes cherry-meat products. Pleva said many people at first are turned off by the idea of his fruit burgers. However, once they buy them and grill them, they say, “Wow, that was great!”


What’s for Lunch?

This table shows what percentage of elementary schools have menus that offer each food item daily.




calorie       cal ·o ·rie



  1. a unit for measuring the amount of energy that a food makes in the body. The more calories something has, the more energy it gives.

Lettuce is low in calories, and doughnuts are high in calories.

Advanced Definition


  1. a unit of heat equal to the amount necessary to raise the temperature of one gram of water one degree Celsius; gram calorie; small calorie. (abbr.: cal.)
  2. (sometimes cap.) a unit of heat equal to the amount necessary to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water one degree Celsius; large calorie; great calorie; kilocalorie. (abbr.: Cal.)
  3. a unit of energy equal to a large calorie, used for measuring energy value of food oxidized in the body, or the amount of food capable of producing such a unit. (abbr.: Cal.)

Vegetables provide fewer calories in general than fruits and high protein foods.

Spanish cognate

caloría: The Spanish word caloría means calorie.

These are some examples of how the word or forms of the word are used:

  1. A calorie is a unit of energy.
  2. Pay attention to calorie counts posted on menus.
  3. For one thing, the calorie count in juice can add up fast.
  4. A calorie is a measure of the amount of energy from food.
  5. A calorie is a measure of the amount of energy a food can provide.
  6. Simply cutting your calorie intake may help you lose weight, but it also slows your metabolism.
  7. Fad diets work by cutting your total calorie intake, but once you stop following them, you are likely to gain your weight right back.


Name: ___________________________________ Date: _______________
Fact & Opinion Questions
1. Which of the following is an opinion?
A. Some students in Colorado, Maryland, and Florida are eating burgers that have prunes in them.
B. Erin probably wouldn’t like the blueberry burger.
C. School kids in 17 states eat cherry burgers.
D. Blueberries contain a cancer-fighting substance.
2. Which of the following quotations is a fact?
A. “Wow, that was great.”
B. “You don’t see the cherry.”
C. “Kids don’t care if food is good for you.”
D. “I like the food.”
3. Schools have made many changes to the lunches they serve. Schools are banning which of the following items?
A. fizzy, sugary soft drinks
B. blueberry burgers
C. soft tortilla shells
D. skim milk
4. Look at the chart that lists percentages. Which statement is untrue?
A. All schools offer milk daily.
B. 31% of schools offer meat or meat alternatives daily.
C. Over 90% of schools offer vegetables daily.
D. Most schools do not offer fruits or juices daily.
5. Schools should change what they serve for lunch.” Is this a fact or opinion? Explain.

Copyright © 2007 Weekly Reader Corporation. All rights reserved. Used by permission.Weekly Reader is a registered trademark of Weekly Reader Corporation.


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