Directions: In this part, you will have 15 minutes to go over the passage quickly and answer the questions on Answer Sheet 1.For questions 1-7, choose the best answer from the four choices marked [A], [B], [C] and [D]. For questions 8-10, complete the sentences with the information given in the passage.
Ask anyone why there is an obesity epidemic and they will tell you that it’s all down to eating too much and burning too few calories. That explanation appeals to common sense and has dominated efforts to get to the root of the obesity epidemic and reverse it. Yet obesity researchers are increasingly dissatisfied with it. Many now believe that something else must have changed in our environment to precipitate (促成) such dramatic rises in obesity over the past 40 years or so. Nobody is saying that the “big two” — reduced physical activity and increased availability of food — are not important contributors to the epidemic, but they cannot explain it all.
Earlier this year a review paper by 20 obesity experts set out the 7 most plausible alternative explanations for the epidemic. Here they are.
1. Not enough sleep
It is widely believed that sleep is for the brain, not the body. Could a shortage of shut-eye also be helping to make us fat?
Several large-scale studies suggest there may be a link. People who sleep less than 7 hours a night tend to have a higher body mass index than people who sleep more, according to data gathered by the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Similarly, the US Nurses’ Health Study, which tracked 68,000 women for 16 years, found that those who slept an average of 5 hours a night gained more weight during the study period than women who slept 6 hours, who in turn gained more than those who slept 7.
It’s well known that obesity impairs sleep, so perhaps people get fat first and sleep less afterwards. But the nurses’ study suggests that it can work in the other direction too: sleep loss may precipitate weight gain.
Although getting figures is difficult, it appears that we really are sleeping less. In 1960 people in the US slept an average of 8.5 hours per night. A 2002 poll by the National Sleep Foundation suggests that the average has fallen to under 7 hours, and the decline is mirrored by the increase in obesity.
2. Climate control
We humans, like all warm-blooded animals, can keep our core body temperatures pretty much constant regardless of what’s going on in the world around us. We do this by altering our metabolic (新陈代新的) rate, shivering or sweating. Keeping warm and staying cool take energy unless we are in the “thermo-neutral zone”, which is increasingly where we choose to live and work.
There is no denying that ambient temperatures (环境温度) have changed in the past few decades. Between 1970 and 2000, the average British home warmed from a chilly 13℃to 18℃. In the US, the changes have been at the other end of the thermometer as the proportion of homes with air conditioning rose from 23% to 47% between 1978 and 1997. In the southern states — where obesity rates tend to be highest – the number of houses with air conditioning has shot up to 70% from 37% in 1978.
Could air conditioning in summer and heating in winter really make a difference to our weight? Sadly, there is some evidence that it does — at least with regard to heating. Studies show that in comfortable temperatures we use less energy.
3. Less smoking
Bad news: smokers really do tend to be thinner than the rest of us, and quitting really does pack on the pounds, though no one is sure why. It probably has something to do with the fact that nicotine (尼古丁) is an appetite suppressant and appears to up your metabolic rate.
Katherine Flegal and colleagues at the US National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Maryland, have calculated that people kicking the habit have been responsible for a small but significant portion of the US epidemic of fatness. From data collected around 1991 by the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, they worked out that people who had quit in the previous decade were much more likely to be overweight than smokers and people who had never smoked. Among men, for example, nearly half of quitters were overweight compared with 37% of non-smokers and only 28% of smokers.
4. Genetic effects
Your chances of becoming fat may be set, at least in part, before you were even born. Children of obese mothers are much more likely to become obese themselves later in life. Offspring of mice fed a high-fat diet during pregnancy are much more likely to become fat than the offspring of identical mice fed a normal diet. Intriguingly, the effect persists for two or three generations. Grand-children of mice fed a high-fat diet grow up fat even if their own mother is fed normally — so your fate may have been sealed even before you were conceived.
5. A little older…
Some groups of people just happen to be fatter than others. Surveys carried out by the US National Center for Health Statistics found that adults aged 40 to 79 were around three times as likely to be obese as younger people. Non-white females also tend to fall at the fatter end of the spectrum: Mexican-American women are 30% more likely than white women to be obese, and black women have twice the risk.
In the US, these groups account for an increasing percentage of the population. Between 1970 and 2000 the US population aged 35 to 44 grew by 43%. The proportion of Hispanic-Americans also grew, from under 5% to 12.5% of the population, while the proportion of black Americans increased from 11% to12.3%. These changes may account in part for the increased prevalence of obesity.
6. Mature mums
Mothers around the world are getting older. In the UK, the mean age for having a first child is 27.3, compared with 23.7 in 1970. Mean age at first birth in the US has also increased, rising from 21.4 in 1970 to 24.9 in 2000.
This would be neither here nor there if it weren’t for the observation that having an older mother seems to be an independent risk factor for obesity. Results from the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s study found that the odds of a child being obese increase 14% for every five extra years of their mother’s age, though why this should be so is not entirely clear.
Michael Symonds at the University of Nottingham, UK, found that first-born children have more fat than younger ones. As family size decreases, firstborns account for a greater share of the population. In 1964, British women gave birth to an average of 2.95 children; by 2005 that figure had fallen to 1.79. In the US in1976, 9.6% of women in their 40s had had only one child; in 2004 it was 17.4%. This combination of older mothers and more single children could be contributing to the obesity epidemic.
7. Like marrying like
Just as people pair off according to looks, so they do for size. Lean people are more likely to marry lean and fat more likely to marry fat. On its own, like marrying like cannot account for any increase in obesity. But combined with others — particularly the fact that obesity is partly genetic, and that heavier people have more children — it amplifies the increase from other causes.
1. What is the passage mainly about?
[A] Effects of obesity on people’s health.
[B] The link between lifestyle and obesity.
[C] New explanations for the obesity epidemic.
[D] Possible ways to combat the obesity epidemic.
2. In the US Nurses’ Health Study, women who slept an average of 7 hours a night ______.
[A] gained the least weight [B] were inclined to eat less
[C] found their vigor enhanced [D] were less susceptible to illness
3. The popular belief about obesity is that ______.
[A] it makes us sleepy [B] it causes sleep loss
[C] it increases our appetite [D] it results from lack of sleep
4. How does indoor heating affect our life?
[A] It makes us stay indoors more. [B] It accelerates our metabolic rate.
[C] It makes us feel more energetic. [D] It contributes to our weight gain.
5. What does the author say about the effect of nicotine on smokers?
[A] It threatens their health. [B] It heightens their spirits.
[C] It suppresses their appetite. [D] It slows down their metabolism.
6. Who are most likely to be overweight according to Katherine Flegal’s study?
[A] Heavy smokers. [B] Passive smokers.
[C] Those who never smoke. [D] Those who quit smoking.
7. According to the US National Center for Health Statistics, the increased obesity in the US is a result of ______.
[A] the growing number of smokers among young people
[B] the rising proportion of minorities in its population
[C] the increasing consumption of high-calorie foods
[D] the improving living standards of the poor people
8. According to the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the reason why older mothers’ children tend to be obese remains ________________.
9. According to Michael Symonds, one fact of contributing to the obesity epidemic is decrease of __________________.
10. When two heavy people get married, chances of their children getting fat increase, because obesity is ___________________.