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ESL / EFL Lesson Plan on Obesity

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Obesity could be catching


Date: Feb 3, 2006
Level: Harder (Try the easier lesson.)
Downloads: Word Doc | PDF Doc | Listening
Audio: (1:56 - 228 KB - 16kbps)

 
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THE ARTICLE

Scientists have found evidence to suggest that certain forms of obesity could come from a virus and be contagious in the same way as the common cold. Researchers looking into this theory have revealed that simply washing your hands could be a preventative measure to avoid obesity. This rudimentary practice could improve the lives of millions around the world. This unlikely proposition was made by Dr. Leah Whigham of the University of Wisconsin. She determined that a human virus, called adenovirus AD-37, causes obesity in chickens and could be responsible for the similar condition in humans. She said: “The nearly simultaneous increase in obesity in most countries is difficult to explain by changes in food intake and exercise alone, and suggest that adenoviruses could have contributed.”

The notion that viruses could lead to obesity has been a contentious one among scientists for many years. Dr. Whigham is convinced that factors other than poor diet or lack of exercise may play their part in making people unhealthily overweight. Testing is still in its preliminary stages and further research is needed to ascertain sufficient data to verify her claims. Dr. Whigham lamented that research was currently retrained by ethical considerations: “We do not have cause-and-effect data in humans - you cannot ethically do the experiments for that kind of data: infect humans and see if they get fat,” she said. She concluded: “The role of adenoviruses in the worldwide epidemic of obesity is a critical question that demands additional research.”

WARM-UPS

1. MY WEIGHT: In pairs / groups, talk about your weight. How has it varied over the years? Do you weigh yourself every day? Do you ever worry about your weight? What is your ideal weight?

2. CHAT: In pairs / groups, decide which of these topics or words are most interesting and which are most boring.

Scientists / evidence / obesity / virus / washing your hands / chickens / food intake / exercise / contentious issues / diet / testing / ethics / data / epidemics / research

Have a chat about the topics you liked. For more conversation, change topics and partners frequently.

3. PREDICTION: Talk with your partner(s) about what you think the article will be about. Use the words in the “chat” section above to help you. Change partners and share and compare your predictions.

4. HEADLINES: In pairs / groups, talk about these “headlines”. Develop the stories. How possible do you think it is that they might become real? What would be the consequences of the things in the headlines actually happening?

  1. Cure for obesity found
  2. Successful diet pill found
  3. Half of world population obese
  4. Airlines and trains to base ticket prices on body weight
  5. High cholesterol food banned
  6. Fat people found to live longer
  7. Obesity becomes a thing of the past
  8. Government passes health law – obesity is illegal

5. FAT: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word “fat”. Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.

6. DIFFICULTIES: Talk about the difficulties obese people face in their daily lives. Use these words to help your conversations:

  • Food shopping
  • Exercise
  • Job hunting
  • Shopping for clothes
  • Transportation
  • Thin people
  • Bathroom scales
  • Eating

 
 

BEFORE READING / LISTENING

1. TRUE / FALSE: Look at the article’s headline and guess whether these sentences are true (T) or false (F):

a.

Scientists have claimed obesity can be caught from a virus.

T / F

b.

Washing your hands could be one way to avoid becoming obese.

T / F

c.

Eating chicken can lead to obesity.

T / F

d.

There is a near simultaneous increase in obesity in most countries.

T / F

e.

The notion of an obesity-causing virus is a very new one.

T / F

f.

Testing of the theory is in its advanced stages.

T / F

g.

It is unethical to conduct experiments that involve making people fat.

T / F

h.

Obesity is a global epidemic.

T / F

2. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article:

a.

contagious

basic

b.

preventative

debatable

c.

rudimentary

all-important

d.

simultaneous

considerations

e.

intake

consumption

f.

contentious

concurrent

g.

factors

initial

h.

preliminary

substantiate

i.

verify

catching

j.

critical

preemptive

3. PHRASE MATCH: Match the following phrases from the article (sometimes more than one combination is possible):

a.

contagious in the same way

causes obesity in chickens

b.

simply washing your hands

by ethical considerations

c.

This rudimentary practice could

among scientists for many years

d.

adenovirus AD-37

could be a preventative measure

e.

The nearly simultaneous

in its preliminary stages

f.

a contentious one

improve the lives of millions

g.

factors other

as the common cold

h.

Testing is still

additional research

i.

research was currently retrained

than poor diet…

j.

a critical question that demands

increase in obesity

WHILE READING / LISTENING

GAP FILL: Put the words in the column on the right into the gaps in the text.

Obesity could be catching

Scientists have found evidence to suggest that _________ forms of obesity could come from a virus and be _________ in the same way as the common cold. Researchers looking into this theory have revealed that simply washing your hands could be a preventative _________ to avoid obesity. This rudimentary _________ could improve the lives of millions around the world. This unlikely _________ was made by Dr. Leah Whigham of the University of Wisconsin. She determined that a human virus, called adenovirus AD-37, causes obesity in chickens and could be _________ for the similar condition in humans. She said: “The nearly _________ increase in obesity in most countries is difficult to explain by changes in food _________ and exercise alone, and suggest that adenoviruses could have contributed.”

 

 

simultaneous
certain
responsible
practice
intake
contagious
proposition
measure

The _________ that viruses could lead to obesity has been a _________ one among scientists for many years. Dr. Whigham is convinced that factors _________ than poor diet or lack of exercise may play their part in making people unhealthily overweight. Testing is still in its preliminary stages and further research is needed to _________ sufficient data to verify her claims. Dr. Whigham lamented that research was currently _________ by ethical considerations: “We do not have cause-and-effect data in humans - you cannot _________ do the experiments for that kind of data: _________ humans and see if they get fat,” she said. She concluded: “The role of adenoviruses in the worldwide epidemic of obesity is a _________ question that demands additional research.”

 

ethically
ascertain
contentious
critical
retrained
notion
infect
other

LISTENING

Listen and fill in the spaces.

Obesity could be catching

Scientists have found evidence to suggest that ________ forms of obesity could come from a virus and be ___________ in the same way as the common cold. Researchers looking into this theory have revealed that simply washing your hands could be a _____________ measure to avoid obesity. This rudimentary practice could improve the lives of millions around the world. This unlikely _____________ was made by Dr. Leah Whigham of the University of Wisconsin. She determined that a human virus, called adenovirus AD-37, causes obesity in chickens and could be responsible for the similar condition in humans. She said: “The nearly _____________ increase in obesity in most countries is difficult to explain by changes in food intake and exercise alone, and suggest that adenoviruses could have _____________.”

The notion that viruses could lead to obesity has been a _____________ one among scientists for many years. Dr. Whigham is convinced that factors other than poor diet or lack of exercise may play their part in making people unhealthily overweight. Testing is still in its ___________ stages and further research is needed to __________ sufficient data to verify her claims. Dr. Whigham lamented that research was currently retrained by ethical considerations: “We do not have cause-and-effect data in humans - you cannot __________ do the experiments for that kind of data: infect humans and see if they get fat,” she said. She concluded: “The role of adenoviruses in the worldwide __________ of obesity is a _________ question that demands additional research.”


 
 

AFTER READING / LISTENING

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionaries / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words ‘common’ and ‘cold’.

  • Share your findings with your partners.
  • Make questions using the words you found.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

2. ARTICLE QUESTIONS: Look back at the article and write down some questions you would like to ask the class about the text.

  • Share your questions with other classmates / groups.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

3. GAP FILL: In pairs / groups, compare your answers to this exercise. Check your answers. Talk about the words from the activity. Were they new, interesting, worth learning…?

4. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.

5. STUDENT “OBESITY” SURVEY: In pairs / groups, write down questions about viruses and obesity.

  • Ask other classmates your questions and note down their answers.
  • Go back to your original partner / group and compare your findings.
  • Make mini-presentations to other groups on your findings.

6. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall exactly how these were used in the text:

  • suggest
  • common
  • measure
  • practice
  • condition
  • alone
  • contentious
  • poor
  • ascertain
  • lamented
  • ethically
  • critical

DISCUSSION

STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

  1. Did the headline make you want to read the article?
  2. Do you think obesity could be a virus?
  3. Do you think it’s possible that other conditions, such as depression or absent-mindedness, could also be due to viruses?
  4. Do you think scientists will soon be able to cure obesity?
  5. What do you think of the fact that obesity is a global epidemic?
  6. What do you think will happen to the average weight of people in the future?
  7. Do you think you could catch the obesity virus?
  8. Do you worry about your weight?
  9. What problems do obese people have?
  10. What does your government do to encourage people to maintain a healthy weight?

STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

  1. Did you like reading this article?
  2. What do you think about what you read?
  3. Do you think its possible for obesity to be contagious?
  4. How often do you wash your hands?
  5. Do you think obesity is a largely forgotten about epidemic?
  6. Do you think increasing levels of obesity could eventually decrease longevity rates?
  7. Are you surprised that obesity exists in most countries?
  8. Do you think it is ethical to try and infect people with an obesity virus to see if they get fat?
  9. Do you think society’s view of obesity will change?
  10. Did you like this discussion?

AFTER DISCUSSION: Join another partner / group and tell them what you talked about.

  1. What was the most interesting thing you heard?
  2. Was there a question you didn’t like?
  3. Was there something you totally disagreed with?
  4. What did you like talking about?
  5. Which was the most difficult question?

SPEAKING

LARGE LIFE: Look at this list of difficulties that obese people may encounter. In pairs / groups, discuss how much of a problem these points might be. Decide what should be done about them and think of solutions.

DIFFICULTIES

PROBLEMS

SOLUTIONS

 

Shopping for clothes

 

 

Job hunting

 

 

Exercise

 

 

Using airplanes

 

 

Being taunted

 

 

“Thin” advertising

 

 

Medical / Life insurance

 

 

Other ________________
 

 

 

Change partners and share and compare your ideas.

What do you think people who are obese would think of the solutions?

Whose responsibility is obesity – the individual’s or the government’s?

HOMEWORK

1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google’s search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find more information on obesity. Share your findings with your class in the next lesson. Did you all find out similar things?

3. OBESITY: Write an essay on the causes and effects of obesity in your country. What are the remedies to this epidemic? Read your essays to your partner(s) in your next class. Did you all write about similar things?

4. MY DIET: Make a record of the things you eat on a daily or weekly basis. Justify your reasons for eating or drinking these things. Determine whether or not you can live without the different foods and drinks you consume. Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Did everyone write about similar things?

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:

a. T

b. T

c. F

d. T

e. F

f. F

g. T

h. T

SYNONYM MATCH:

a.

contagious

catching

b.

preventative

preemptive

c.

rudimentary

basic

d.

simultaneous

concurrent

e.

intake

consumption

f.

contentious

debatable

g.

factors

considerations

h.

preliminary

initial

i.

verify

substantiate

j.

critical

all-important

PHRASE MATCH:

a.

contagious in the same way

as the common cold

b.

simply washing your hands

could be a preventative measure

c.

This rudimentary practice could

improve the lives of millions

d.

adenovirus AD-37

causes obesity in chickens

e.

The nearly simultaneous

increase in obesity

f.

a contentious one

among scientists for many years

g.

factors other

than poor diet…

h.

Testing is still

in its preliminary stages

i.

research was currently retrained

by ethical considerations

j.

a critical question that demands

additional research

GAP FILL:

Obesity could be catching

Scientists have found evidence to suggest that certain forms of obesity could come from a virus and be contagious in the same way as the common cold. Researchers looking into this theory have revealed that simply washing your hands could be a preventative measure to avoid obesity. This rudimentary practice could improve the lives of millions around the world. This unlikely proposition was made by Dr. Leah Whigham of the University of Wisconsin. She determined that a human virus, called adenovirus AD-37, causes obesity in chickens and could be responsible for the similar condition in humans. She said: “The nearly simultaneous increase in obesity in most countries is difficult to explain by changes in food intake and exercise alone, and suggest that adenoviruses could have contributed.”

The notion that viruses could lead to obesity has been a contentious one among scientists for many years. Dr. Whigham is convinced that factors other than poor diet or lack of exercise may play their part in making people unhealthily overweight. Testing is still in its preliminary stages and further research is needed to ascertain sufficient data to verify her claims. Dr. Whigham lamented that research was currently retrained by ethical considerations: “We do not have cause-and-effect data in humans - you cannot ethically do the experiments for that kind of data: infect humans and see if they get fat,” she said. She concluded: “The role of adenoviruses in the worldwide epidemic of obesity is a critical question that demands additional research.”

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Copyright © 2006 by Sean Banville