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General reading strategies

Critical Reading

Exercise 1: Skimming and scanning


In this exercise you will practice skimming using the following article: by Blundell, J., Cooling, J.(2000) Routes to Obesity: phenotypes, food choices and activity, British Journal of Nutrition, 83, Suppl. 1, S33-S38.

Step 1

Read the title and the extract from the abstract from the article. Each sentence in the abstract has been numbered.

Article Title: Routes to obesity: phenotypes, food choices and activity


(1) Gain in body weight over a number of years could be achieved through cumulative positive energy balances.

(2) These positive balances could come about through adjustments in the various components of energy expenditure or fuel utilization, together with shifts in food selection or eating patterns leading to adjustments in macro nutrient intake.

(3) This means that many combinations of intake and expenditure could lead to a positive energy balance; these combinations can be called routes to body weight gain.

(4) However, these routes are difficult to trace by studying random samples of individuals.

(5) Previous investigations have found a clear association between high fat consumption and the occurrence of obesity, and although a high fat intake is a strong behavioural risk factor for weight gain, the relationship does not constitute a biological inevitability.

(6) Some normal-weight and lean individuals appear to eat a high-fat diet.

Step 2

Read the first sentences of each paragraph from the first section of the article.

Step 3

Match a first sentence to an abstract sentence by clicking the appropriate box number. When you have made your choice click Answer.
HINT: Not all first sentences below match an abstract sentence.

First sentences from paragraphs in section 1 of the article to match abstract.

There is currently a debate concerning the role played by macronutrients in the development of a positive energy balance and obesity.
Answer ...

This matches abstract sentence 2 above. It picks up the concepts of macronutrient balance, energy expenditure and positive food balances.

Some reviewers have argued that, in considering the reasons underlying a positive energy balance, low levels of physical activity are more important than a high energy intake.
Answer ...

No, this doesn't closely match any of the abstract sentences above. None of the abstract sentences above advance the idea that low levels of activity are the primary reason for a positive energy balance.

One characteristic of the food supply which has been identified as a likely promoter of a high energy intake and a positive energy balance is the prevalence of high-fat foods (Blundell et al. 1996; Macdiarmid et al. 1996), either of the savoury variety (Cox et al. 1999) or of the sugar-fat type (Drewnowski et al. 1992).
Answer ...

No, this is not a close match to any of the abstract sentences above. Although the association between high fat diets and a positive energy balance is advanced in abstract sentence 5, this sentence also emphasises that obesity is not inevitable.

One problem in assessing the relationship between dietary fat and obesity on the basis of large-scale surveys is the likelihood of selective under-reporting.
Answer ...

No, this doesn't closely match any of the abstract sentences above. None of the sentences mention under-reporting.

However, although the presence of high-fat foods has been identified as a major environmental 'risk factor' for weight gain, it is clear that the relationship between a high fat diet and a high BMI is not a biological inevitability (Blundell and Macdiarmid, 1997).
Answer ...

This matches abstract sentence 5 above. It reflects the concept that although there is a strong association between high fat diets and obesity there is no one to one relationship between them.

This issue (i.e. individuals who consume a high-fat diet who do not gain weight) poses a question about the relationship between the habitual diet and the control of body weight.
Answer ...

This matches abstract sentence 6 above. It picks up the idea of normal weight and lean individuals who have a high-fat diet.

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