Characteristics of Texts, Part 3

Read the following two passages about human nutrition, noting what they have in common and where they differ.

Passage #1: “Nutrition and Health – The Association between Eating Behavior and Various Health Parameters: A Matched Sample Study


Our diet has an impact on our well-being and on our health. Studies have shown a vegetarian diet to be associated with a lower incidence of hypertension, cholesterol problems, some chronic degenerative diseases, coronary artery disease, type II diabetes, gallstones, stroke, and certain cancers [1][7]. A vegetarian diet is characterized by a low consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol, due to a higher intake of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain products [3], [4], [8]. Overall, vegetarians have a lower body mass index [1], [4], [5], [7], [9][12], a higher socioeconomic status [13], and better health behavior, i.e. they are more physically active, drink less alcohol, and smoke less [9], [13], [14]. On the other hand, the mental health effects of a vegetarian diet or a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grain products and fish are divergent [9], [15]. For example, Michalak et al. [16] report that a vegetarian diet is associated with an elevated prevalence of mental disorders. A poor meat intake has been shown to be associated with lower mortality rates and higher life expectancy [17], and a diet which allows small amounts of red meat, fish and dairy products seems to be associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease as well as type 2 diabetes [18]. Additionally, evidence concerning lower rates of cancer, colon diseases including colon cancer, abdominal complaints, and all-cause mortality is, however, inconsistent [5][7], [19][22].

Not only is the intake of certain nutrients, like red meat, associated with an increased health risk [18], [23][26], high-caloric intake also plays a crucial role [23], [27]. Moreover, there seems to be proof that lifestyle factors like physical activity may be more crucial in lowering disease rates than individual dietary habits [20], [28][29]. While, generally speaking, diets based on plants, like vegetarian diets, seem to be associated with a certain health benefit, a lower risk to contract certain chronic diseases [30], and the ability to improve health [31][32], restrictive and monotonous vegetarian diets include the risk of nutritional deficits [2], [18], [19], [30], [33]. Baines et al. [9] report that vegetarians take more medication than non-vegetarians.

To summarize, a number of studies have shown vegetarian diets and diets with poor meat intake to be associated with lower mortality rates for certain diseases. Research about the dietary habits in Austria is, however, rather sparse and mainly focused on genetic factors [33][36]. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate health differences between different dietary habit groups among Austrian adults.


Passage #2: “The Science Behind Healthy Eating Patterns”

Associations Between Eating Patterns and Health

Evidence shows that healthy eating patterns, as outlined in the Guidelines and Key Recommendations, are associated with positive health outcomes. The evidence base for associations between eating patterns and specific health outcomes continues to grow. Strong evidence shows that healthy eating patterns are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Moderate evidence indicates that healthy eating patterns also are associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancers (such as colorectal and postmenopausal breast cancers), overweight, and obesity. Emerging evidence also suggests that relationships may exist between eating patterns and some neurocognitive disorders and congenital anomalies.

Within this body of evidence, higher intakes of vegetables and fruits consistently have been identified as characteristics of healthy eating patterns; whole grains have been identified as well, although with slightly less consistency. Other characteristics of healthy eating patterns have been identified with less consistency and include fat-free or low-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts. Lower intakes of meats, including processed meats; processed poultry; sugar-sweetened foods, particularly beverages; and refined grains have often been identified as characteristics of healthy eating patterns. Additional information about how food groups and dietary components fit within healthy eating patterns is discussed throughout the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. For example, as discussed later in this chapter in the section About Meats and Poultry, evidence from food pattern modeling has demonstrated that lean meats can be part of a healthy eating pattern, but as discussed in Chapter 2, average intakes of meats, poultry, and eggs, a subgroup of the protein foods group, are above recommendations in the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern for teen boys and adult men.

Associations Between Dietary Components and Health

The evidence on food groups and various health outcomes that is reflected in this 2015-2020 edition of the Dietary Guidelines complements and builds on the evidence of the previous 2010 edition. For example, research has shown that vegetables and fruits are associated with a reduced risk of many chronic diseases, including CVD, and may be protective against certain types of cancers. Additionally, some evidence indicates that whole grain intake may reduce risk for CVD and is associated with lower body weight. Research also has linked dairy intake to improved bone health, especially in children and adolescents.


Question 1

Which of these passages did you enjoy reading more? Why?


Question 2

What differences between the two passages stand out to you? Type these differences here.


Question 3

What similarities in the passages are apparent to you? Type these similarities here.


Question 4

Both passages here are excerpts from longer essays. Which of these would you want to keep reading to

  1. get ideas for how you might change your diet to benefit your personal health?
  2. learn more about dietary habits of people living in Austria?
  3. use as a potential source in a research essay about human nutrition?