Sugar is Killing Me! — a Talking Points lesson for English reading and speaking

This is a lesson plan that I wrote about the dangers of added sugar in our diet.

This is a very newsworthy topic so I thought it would be a great idea for a lesson in your class. You can use this as part of a General English class, a Reading Comprehension class or a Conversation Class.

This lesson is also great for an IELTS speaking class as it presents a great topic to discuss and a list of vocabulary.

The lesson consists of:

  • Introduction
  • Reading
  • Vocabulary
  • Discussion Questions
  • Teacher’s Notes

And as always – let me know in the comments below!

 


 

Introduction

 

Do people consume a lot of sugar in your country?

Is this a problem?

What can be done about it?

 

Reading

 

In the last few years, scientists have discovered the devastating effect that sugar is having on people’s lives.

What was considered before to be an essential ingredient as part of our daily diet has now been revealed as something far more deadly. Go to any supermarket and you can find the shelves stacked with processed food that contains large amounts of sugar.

Sugar is added to everything. Not just the kind of food that we associate with the stuff, such as ice-cream, chocolate and fizzy drinks. It is in food such as breakfast cereal, bread, pasta sauce, pizza and jars of curry sauce.

Even when we are outside our senses are attacked by signs from shop fronts selling us more sugary treats. There are fresh fruit juice stalls that make the drinks they sell look healthy and nutritious. It’s all fruit, so what is wrong with that?

Except that in each cup we are far exceeding our recommended daily allowance of sugar. There is a reason why nature contains each portion of fruit inside one apple, one orange or one banana.

There are bread shops. But inside the bread is nothing like the kind that was made fifty years ago. This modern bread has sugar in it to give it a longer shelf life.

And what is the result?

People are becoming obese. Not just a little overweight but unhealthily fat.

Children are having severe dental decay. Before they are even old enough for middle school, children are having teeth extracted as they literally rot inside their mouths from consuming too much sugar.

How did this happen?

Only a few years ago that cholesterol was our worst enemy, not sugar. Scientists, doctors and learned men stood in an American court and declared that the one thing that people needed to cut down on was fat.

Sugar was essential. Something we needed to consume. But fat was bad.

So people cut down on fat and the food processing companies filled the supermarket shelves with ready meals filled with added sugar.

Fast forward several years and the scientists are now telling us a different story. Fat is a necessary part of our diet, something we need to eat.

But sugar? No, this is bad for us and we all need to stop eating it.

Even though people have become hopelessly addicted to it.

Is it too late to change?

 

Essential Vocabulary

devastating

considered

essential ingredient

daily diet

revealed

deadly

stacked

processed food

associate

stuff

fizzy drinks

breakfast cereal

pasta sauce

curry sauce

senses

shop fronts

sugary treats

far exceeding

recommended daily allowance

shelf life

obese

dental decay

extracted

rot

cholesterol

learned men

declared

cut down

essential

consume

food processing companies

ready meals

added sugar

fast forward

hopelessly addicted

Exercise

Write down all the words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look in your dictionary and find the meaning of each word. Write the definition next to each word.

Then make up your own sentences using each word or phrase.

For example:

Notebook—a small book with pages of blank paper that students use to make notes when studying.

“I left my notebook at home so I was unable to make any notes in my English class.”

 

Questions

  1. Do you eat a lot of added sugar in your daily diet? Tell the class about it.
  1. What are the health risks of consuming too much added sugar? Tell the class the different health risks and the teacher can write them on the board.
  1. Can you see any evidence of these health risks in your town or city? Do you know anyone who has any of these health risks?
  1. Why do companies add sugar to their processed food? What reasons do they have for doing it?
  1. If you eat this kind of food, do you plan on stopping? Or will you just continue eating it? Give your reasons why/why not.
  1. What kind of restaurants is selling food with added sugar in their meals in your town or city? Name the places and describe the food.
  1. Should the local government ban these kinds of food outlets? Why/why not?
  1. What should we eat? Talk about a healthy, balanced diet. Give examples of healthy food in your culture.
  1. Are people ‘hopelessly addicted’ to this kind of sugary food? Is there any chance to get people to eat healthy food now?

 

Group Work

In small groups, try to think of an education campaign to help wean people off added sugar in their diet.

  • Think about how to get people to eat healthily.
  • How to help people avoid fast food and fizzy drinks.
  • How to encourage people to eat more vegetables in their daily diet.

Now present your campaign to the class.

Teachers Notes

Most people are aware that too much sugar is bad for us but this lesson may present some new ideas to your students.

Especially if it is in a country that has many fast-food outlets and suchlike.

You could use this lesson in conjunction with the my other lesson on Cultural Pollution if you are doing lessons on food/fast food.

 


I hope this lesson plan was fun – and useful too.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


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2 thoughts on “Sugar is Killing Me! — a Talking Points lesson for English reading and speaking”

  1. You have hit upon one of my favorite topics and one I’ve been ranting about for years. In fact when my kids were growing up, I refused to have sugar or a TV in the house. Even though this content is great for Second language learners, it would also be vital for school curriculums in English speaking countries to use. Our children worldwide need information like this in all schools instead of the prattle they are now getting!

    1. Absolutely, Leona! I just cannot believe how we are being poisoned daily by this nasty substance. Hopefully, people are beginning to understand the dangers of sugar now.

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