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.TOEFL Listening Comprehension TranscriptNarrator
Listen to part of a lecture from a social sciences class.
Are we ready? Let's start. Today's topic is fast food. For many people in other countries, fast food equals American food. All Germans eat sausages, all Chinese eat rice, and all Americans eat hamburgers, right? Well, um, actually, we do eat a lot of hamburgers. In fact, the average American eats three hamburgers a week, along with four orders of French fries. I'll tell you, my son is not average, because he'd eat three hamburgers a day, if I'd let him. And I think he eats four orders of French fries by Wednesday. [laughter] But, even though we still eat hamburgers, did you know that we eat less now than we used to when I was your age? In 1976, we ate 94 pounds of beef per person each year. These days, we eat 68 pounds per person. From 94 to 68, that's quite a reduction! But eating [false start] But just because we eat fewer hamburgers does not mean we eat less fast food. As a matter of fact, we eat more fast food than ever. Here is some food for thought: In 1970, Americans spent six billion dollars a year on fast food. By 2001, that number had increased to one hundred and ten billion. Six billion to a hundred and ten billion in 30 years [whistles]! Man, if my stocks had done that well, I wouldn't be standing here teaching, I'd be in my private Lear jet on my way to Hawaii!
Uh, an easier way to imagine this might be that Americans spend more money annually on fast food than they do on university fees, personal computers, and new cars. We shell out more money for hamburgers, pizza, chicken and French fries than we do for movies, books, magazines, newspapers, DVDs and CDs combined. How many of you have bought a car? Oh, lots of you, I see. I bet you thought that was a big-ticket item. Now, how many of you often order pizza delivery or eat fast food on the weekends? Hmm, most of you! That doesn't seem so expensive, does it? But, if you're average, over the course of a year you'll spend more money on the food than you paid for that car - especially if you bought a used one.
In one sense, it's not surprising that we spend more on food than entertainment. After all, we have to eat. But Americans spend more money not just on food, but on fast food. Is this healthy? Um, probably not. Maybe you've noticed that Americans are getting fatter. And I don't mean just a little plump. We're getting obese. America has the largest percentage of obese people among all developed nations. Did you know that more than half of all US adults weigh too much? So do about twenty-five percent of our children. The US surgeon general calls this a crisis. A crisis! Think of it like a river. It keeps raining, and the river keeps rising. At first no one is very worried. But the water keeps rising, and rising. Then it overflows its banks and floods the city. Suddenly, we have a crisis. Why is being obese a crisis? Well, for one thing, it's killing us. Obesity - um, being too fat - increases the stress on our bodies. Our hearts and other organs have to work harder, and they break down sooner. Obesity is the number two cause of death in America today, right behind smoking. We all know how bad smoking is. Being too fat is the second-biggest killer.
Of course, there are other factors to consider. Simply eating fast food, by itself, does not make you obese. On the other hand, it doesn't help your health, either. A few years ago, a man decided to eat at McDonald's every day for a month: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Before he began doing this, he was in almost perfect health. Thirty days and about 40 pounds later, he had heart problems and trouble breathing. His liver and kidneys were weak. His doctor said his liver was similar to an alcoholic's. OK, I know this case was excessive. But the [false start] But what was scary was that while doing this, he found that about 20 percent of McDonald's customers really do eat there virtually every day.Excerpt from the TOEFL test listening conversationProf:
For many people in other countries, fast food equals American food. All Germans eat sausages, all Chinese eat rice, and all Americans eat hamburgers, right?
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