Exercise 1

1950s and TODAY

People are often shocked by the unhealthy lifestyles shown in TV shows like Mad Men. But are we really any healthier than we were 70 years ago?

Food and drink

People didn’t use to worry about how many calories they ate. The government advised people to eat meat, cheese, butter, cereal and bread every day. They also recommended two glasses of milk a day. Today the advice has changed. They say we should eat more vegetables and less meat, cheese and butter. But we don’t listen. Not many of us eat a healthy diet. 60% of us are now overweight. In the UK, the average woman will spend 31 years of her life on a diet. For a man, it’s 28 years.


in the 1950s:   woman 55 man 65

today:   woman 70 man 83


Most women used to keep in shape naturally by doing housework – the average housewife did three hours of housework every day. They didn’t need to go to the gym to lose weight and get fit. Today, busy working lives make it harder to get enough exercise. Inventions like washing machines, freezers and cars have made our lives easier, so it’s now much easier to put on weight.


in the 1950s:   1992 per day

today:   556 per day

Health care

People didn’t use to live as long as we do today. Hospital operations were much less common and people only used to go to the doctor when they were seriously ill. Today, we live longer, but we have new health problems. In the 1950s, most kids drank wilk and ate peanuts without any problems but more people have allergies to various foods today. And the number of people who have diabetes is also increasing, because more people are overweight.


in the 1950s:   65

today:   79


Smoking used to be very popular. The big Hollywood stars like James Dean and Audrey Hepburn all smoked on screen. In the UK, 80% of adults were regular smokers. People just didn’t know how dangerous it was and didn’t try to give up smoking. Today, we all know the dangers, and it’s now illegal to smoke in public places like offices, schools and restaurants.


in the 1950s:   80%

today:   20%

A. Read the article. Read sentences 1—4 about the 1950s. Are they true (T) or false (F)?

In the 1950s, …

1   people were thinner than they are today.

2   people spent more time at the gym than today.

3   people lived longer lives than they do today.

4   people smoked more cigarettes than today.

B. Read the article again. Answer the questions.

 In the 1950s, what did the government say people should drink?

 How is government advice about food different today?

 How much time do UK women spend on a diet these days?

 How did women in the 1950s exercise?

 Why do people put on weight more easily today?

 In the 1950s, when did people visit the doctor?

 Which health problems are more common today?

 Why didn’t people stop smoking in the 1950s?

 Where is it illegal to smoke in the UK?



1 T   2 F   3 F   4 T


 two glasses of milk a day

 They say we should eat more vegetables and less meat, cheese and butter.

 31 years

 by doing housework

 Inventions have made our lives easier.

 when they were seriously ill

 allergies to food, diabetes

 They didn’t know how dangerous it was.

 in public places like off ices, schools and restaurants

Exercise 2


Talking about how you got even better!

About three years ago, I used to smoke and I was overweight. I was really unfit and I didn’t feel very good about myself, so I decided to make a change.

To begin with, I gave up smoking which wasn’t too difficult. But then I started eating instead of smoking, and I started putting on a lot of weight. I was getting heavier and heavier and I wasn’t doing any exercise. I’m about 1.78 m tall and my weight went up to 98 kg. So, after that I decided I needed to start exercising, too.

When I was at secondary school I used to enjoy running, so I thought that would be an easy way for me to get fit. At first, I could only run for about thirty seconds and then I had to walk. It was terrible. So that’s how I got started – I went for walks and every few days I made the walk a bit longer.

After a while, I began feeling fitter and that’s when I started to run and walk. But then, one day, I fell over and hurt my foot when I was running and I had to stop for about two weeks. I was surprised how much I missed it!

However, when I started again, it was much easier than I thought. Soon, I found I didn’t need to walk any more and I found I could run further and further. In the end, I was able to go for a 10 km run without problems. I’ve lost almost 20 kg and I now weigh just 80 kg. I feel so much better and I’m planning to run a marathon next year. These days, instead of spending all my money on cigarettes, I spend money on going out or buying things.

A. Simon wrote about a change he made for the Living to Change blog. Read the blog and answer the questions.

1   What was Simon like before he made a change?

2   What kind of exercise did he start doing?

3   What was the result?

B. Are these sentences about Simon true (T) or false (F)? Correct the false sentences.

 Simon had problems with his weight just after he stopped smoking.

 He started exercising before he stopped smoking.

 He chose running because he liked it when he was younger.

 He found it difficult to run when he started.

 When he hurt his foot, he was pleased to have a break from running.

 He now thinks he might enter a running race.



 very unfit


 He can now run a long way easily and he has lost weight.


2   F – He started afterwards.

5   F – He missed it, for two weeks after he’d fallen over.

Exercise 3

Remembering the past

As she celebrates her 100th birthday, Maria Morales Cabrillo talks to Youth2day magazine about growing up.


My family didn’t have much money, but my brothers and I had what we needed. We didn’t feel poor. We were like everyone else around here. We used to get together with the other children and play in the street every day. We all got on well. It was a nice place to be. Everything used to happen in that street. I got to know my husband in the street. He lived opposite us. When we got engaged we had a party in the street. It was wonderful. It’s changed a lot. It’s a lot quieter now. ­The children don’t play outside. I know their lives are busier, but I don’t think the kids are happier. And they’re fatter than we were! I can’t believe that so many children are overweight these days.


We used to eat three times a day and no more. We had a much healthier diet. Lots of vegetables, some meat and very little sugar. ­ ere didn’t use to be junk food like crisps and burgers and no one needed to go on a diet or get fit. Everyone on our street, children and adults, used to work so hard.


It wasn’t all better. Lots of people smoked. We didn’t know how bad smoking was. My husband was a regular smoker. Fortunately, he gave up smoking when our children were born.


My husband used to work in the local shoe factory. He worked hard but didn’t get paid very much. It was difficult sometimes. People are richer and their lives are easier now, especially with the Internet. But our lives were happier then. I wouldn’t change my life then for anything.

A. Read the magazine article. Match the numbered paragraphs 1–4 with the titles a–d.

 Paragraph 1

 Paragraph 2

 Paragraph 3

 Paragraph 4

 How we used to eat

b   Not all about the money

 Playing outside

d   Unknown dangers

B. Read the magazine article again and underline the correct answers.

Maria thinks …

1   the streets are / used to be much quieter now / in the past.

2   the children are / used to be happier now / in the past.

3   people have / used to have healthier diets now / in the past.

4   more people smoke / used to smoke now / in the past.

5   people are / used to be richer now / in the past.

C. Read the magazine article again and tick (✓) the correct answers.

1   Maria’s family …

      a   were very poor.

      b   had better lives than their neighbours.

      c   were normal for where they lived.   ✓

2   There was a party in the street …

      a   before Maria got married.

      b   when Maria got married.

      c   when Maria met her husband.

3   People didn’t use to go on a diet or need to get fit because …

      a   they didn’t like doing exercise.

      b   they preferred to eat junk food.

      c   they worked so much.

4   People used to smoke a lot because …

      a   it was much cheaper.

      b   they didn’t understand it was dangerous.

      c   you could smoke and buy cigarettes everywhere.

5   Maria thinks …

      a   richer people are happier.

      b   she would prefer to grow up now.

      c   the Internet has made people’s lives easier.

D. Write about how your life has changed over the past ten years. Write about what you used to do and what you do now. Write about:

•   your education

•   your free time

•   your friends and family.



1 c   2 a   3 d   4 b


2 used to be, in the past   3 used to have, in the past

4 used to smoke, in the past   5 are, now


2 a   3 c   4 b   5 c

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