Food and Health Vocabulary


body mass index (or BMI) (noun): a weight-to-height ratio that shows if you’re overweight, underweight or at a healthy weight- Jason’s body mass index is 27, so he’s a bit overweight.

calorie (noun): a unit for measuring the amount of energy we get from food – How many calories are there in a can of soft drink?

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carbohydrate (noun): a substance in foods such as bread and potatoes that is a major source of energy or calories – Is limiting carbohydrates a good way to lose weight?

cancer (noun): a serious illness that is usually difficult to cure and often leads to death – My cousin died of lung cancer when he was fifty.

cholesterol (noun): a substance in body cells that can cause heart disease if levels in the blood are too high – The test shows you have too much bad cholesterol in your blood.

consume (verb): to eat or drink something – How many calories should we consume every day?

contaminate (verb): to make something a carrier of disease – Food that isn’t stored properly can become contaminated with dangerous bacteria.

diabetes (noun): a serious illness in which your body cannot regulate the amount of sugar in the blood – Being obese is the most common cause of type 2 diabetes.

diet¹ (noun): all the foods a person normally eats – My doctor said a vegetarian diet rich in plant protein is best.

diet² (noun): a limited amount or range of food that someone eats to lose weight or become healthier – I’ve been on lots of diets but I’m still overweight.

epidemic (noun): the sudden spread of a disease or medical condition – Processed foods are causing a global obesity epidemic.

fast food (noun): food served quickly, esp. Western foods like hamburgers, pizzas, fried chicken and French fries – Fast food joints are everywhere around here.

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fatal (adjective): causing someone to die – The heart attack wasn’t fatal. He survived!

heart disease (noun): a medical condition in which the heart fails to work properly – Eating healthy food prevents heart disease.

high blood pressure (or hypertension) (noun): a condition in which the blood pressure is higher than it should be – High blood pressure can cause strokes, can’t it?

junk food (noun): unhealthy food, esp. fatty fast foods and processed snack foods – Kids eat far too much junk food these days.

lobby (verb): to contact people with power like politicians and try to influence them for your benefit – The food industry spends millions of dollars lobbying politicians.

malnutrition (noun): a condition of weakness or illness caused by eating too much food, not enough food or unhealthy food – There are still many poor people who suffer from malnutrition.

market (verb): to use advertising and other persuasive methods to make people want a product – Shouldn’t people who produce and market dangerous foods be punished?

nutrient (noun): a substance in food that is necessary for good health – A healthy diet gives us all the nutrients we need.

nutritious (adjective): (of food or drinks) containing substances we need in order to be healthy – Japanese food is both nutritious and delicious.

obese (adjective): very fat; far above a healthy weight (BMI >30) – Why are so many people in Australia obese these days?

obesity (noun): the state of being very overweight, or the medical condition related to this – If marketing junk food to kids causes obesity, why isn’t it banned?

overeat (verb): to eat more food than the body needs – If I didn’t overeat, I wouldn’t be overweight.

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overweight (adjective): above a normal or healthy weight (BMI 25-30) – How can I stop my kids from becoming overweight?

pescatarian/pescetarian (adjective): (of a diet) including vegetarian food and fish, but no other meat – My cousin thinks farming animals and chickens is cruel and bad for the planet, so he’s pescetarian.

preservative (noun): a chemical substance used for preventing food from spoiling or wood from decaying – Many processed foods have added preservatives and artificial colourings and flavourings.

process (verb): to add chemicals or other substances to food to make it last longer or look or taste better – The processed food industry makes a huge amount of money.

profit (noun): money made by selling a product or service – Companies will do whatever’s necessary to increase their profits.

regulate (verb): to use official powers or laws to control an activity, process or industry – The only way to prevent obesity is to regulate the food industry.

risk factor (noun): something that increases your chances of developing a disease or being injured – Smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer.

saturated fat (noun): a type of fat that’s found in butter, cheese, red meat, etc. – Reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet can help you live longer.

stroke (noun): the sudden bursting of a blood vessel in the brain that can cause serious illness or death – After he had a stroke, Harry couldn’t walk or talk normally.

trans fat (or trans fatty acid) (noun): an artificial fat that makes food last longer and taste better but is very bad for health – Trans fats are banned in many places because they’re so bad for our health.

vegan (adjective): (of a diet) with plant foods only; without animal products, including meat, fish, seafood, eggs, milk, cheese, etc – Let’s try sticking to a vegan diet.

vegetarian (adjective): (of a diet) with plant foods and sometimes dairy products, but without meat, fish, or seafood – Most people I met in India were vegetarian.

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