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This is an IELTS Writing Task 2 sample essay on the topic of unhealthy foods from the real exam on the topic of unhealthy foods and whether or not governments should tax them.

It’s a very common topic – health and government regulations.

Read it below in case something similar comes up on your test!

You can also check out my online courses here and my band scores and writing corrections here.

Dave

Be sure to listen to the audio first to test your listening skills before reading my sample answer:

IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample Answer Essay: Unhealthy Foods (Real Past IELTS Tests/Exams)

Some think that governments should tax unhealthy foods to encourage people to eat healthier.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Real Past IELTS Tests/Exams

Some think that heavy-handed governmental taxation is the only way to compel healthier eating. In my opinion, while this makes rational sense, its actual effectiveness is questionable.

Those that argue in favour of these taxes can point to a logical chain of suppositions. Though taxes on unhealthy foods are rare, there is the occasional mandated price hike for sugary drinks and fast food, smoking is an instructive corollary. Several decades after research showed that smoking causes cancer, governments were able to push through legislation to tax cigarettes heavily. The result was that those already addicted to smoking continued to smoke but many people did not pick up the habit to begin with. Proponents argue this would also be the case when it comes to foods known to cause cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Many would eat them despite higher prices but the next generation would become more health conscious and that would further trickle down to their children.

Though the above argument is well reasoned, people will still buy luxuries. There is strong evidence for this dating back centuries. After the war of independence from Britain, the newly formed United States instituted direly needed taxes on luxuries including whiskey and chocolate. The purpose of the taxes was to raise money, not to lower consumption of those products. The unpopular acts were internally vindicated when people continued to buy luxuries along the same growth trend, enabling them to increase the national budget. Even though cutting down on purely pleasurable products makes disinterested sense, people are more swayed by instant gratification than cold calculation.

In conclusion, taxes on unhealthy foods would not be an effective measure against their consumption. Instead, governments should invest more in healthy school lunches and making healthy products more widely available to attack the problem at its root source.

Word Count: 295

Analysis

1. Some think that heavy-handed governmental taxation is the only way to compel healthier eating. 2. In my opinion, while this makes rational sense, its actual effectiveness is questionable.

  1. Paraphrase the overall topic for the essay.
  2. Write your opinion clearly.

1. Those that argue in favour of these taxes can point to a logical chain of suppositions. 2. Though taxes on unhealthy foods are rare, there is the occasional mandated price hike for sugary drinks and fast food, smoking is an instructive corollary. 3. Several decades after research showed that smoking causes cancer, governments were able to push through legislation to tax cigarettes heavily. 4. The result was that those already addicted to smoking continued to smoke but many people did not pick up the habit to begin with. 5. Proponents argue this would also be the case when it comes to foods known to cause cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. 6. Many would eat them despite higher prices but the next generation would become more health conscious and that would further trickle down to their children.

  1. Write a clear topic sentence with a singly main idea.
  2. Explain your main idea if you need to.
  3. Begin to develop it with research/examples/supporting ideas.
  4. Write about the result if possible.
  5. Continue developing – notice the specific ailments I mention.
  6. Your last sentence can relate back to the question and be more general.

1. Though the above argument is well reasoned, people will still buy luxuries. 2. There is strong evidence for this dating back centuries. 3. After the war of independence from Britain, the newly formed United States instituted direly needed taxes on luxuries including whiskey and chocolate. 4. The purpose of the taxes was to raise money, not to lower consumption of those products. 5. The unpopular acts were internally vindicated when people continued to buy luxuries along the same growth trend, enabling them to increase the national budget. 6. Even though cutting down on purely pleasurable products makes disinterested sense, people are more swayed by instant gratification than cold calculation.

  1. Write another topic sentence with a clear main idea.
  2. Begin to develop it. Vary long/short sentences in your writing.
  3. Your examples should be specific so write about the country/example that you know best.
  4. Continue developing the same example.
  5. Keep developing it – don’t switch to a new example or write generally.
  6. Your last sentence can be more general and relate to the overall question.

1. In conclusion, taxes on unhealthy foods would not be an effective measure against their consumption. 2. Instead, governments should invest more in healthy school lunches and making healthy products more widely available to attack the problem at its root source.

  1. Conclude by repeating your opinion.
  2. Add in a final thought/extra detail at the end.

Vocabulary

What do the words in bold below mean? Try to figure them out based on the sentences:

Some think that heavy-handed governmental taxation is the only way to compel healthier eating. In my opinion, while this makes rational sense, its actual effectiveness is questionable.

Those that argue in favour of these taxes can point to a logical chain of suppositions. Though taxes on unhealthy foods are rare, there is the occasional mandated price hike for sugary drinks and fast food, smoking is an instructive corollary. Several decades after research showed that smoking causes cancer, governments were able to push through legislation to tax cigarettes heavily. The result was that those already addicted to smoking continued to smoke but many people did not pick up the habit to begin with. Proponents argue this would also be the case when it comes to foods known to cause cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Many would eat them despite higher prices but the next generation would become more health conscious and that would further trickle down to their children.

Though the above argument is well reasoned, people will still buy luxuries. There is strong evidence for this dating back centuries. After the war of independence from Britain, the newly formed United States instituted direly needed taxes on luxuries including whiskey and chocolate. The purpose of the taxes was to raise money, not to lower consumption of those products. The unpopular acts were internally vindicated when people continued to buy luxuries along the same growth trend, enabling them to increase the national budget. Even though cutting down on purely pleasurable products makes disinterested sense, people are more swayed by instant gratification than cold calculation.

In conclusion, taxes on unhealthy foods would not be an effective measure against their consumption. Instead, governments should invest more in healthy school lunches and making healthy products more widely available to attack the problem at its root source.

Answers

heavy-handed strong/over-the-top

compel force

rational sense logical

actual effectiveness whether or not it works

questionable doubtful

argue in favour of support the idea of

point to argue about

logical chain sensible series

suppositions reasons

occasional mandated price hike regulation/tax

instructive corollary useful analogy

push through force

heavily strongly/a lot

addicted can’t stop using

pick up begin

to begin with start

proponents advocates

cardiovascular disease heart attacks

diabetes a disease related to eating too much sugar

cancer a common disease

next generation young people

health conscious caring about what you eat/exercise

further trickle down also contribute to

well reasoned rational

strong evidence good support for

dating back centuries hundreds of years ago

war of independence revolutionary war

newly formed just created

direly urgently

luxuries items you want but don’t need

lower consumption less eating/use

unpopular acts controversial

internally vindicated turned out to be true

growth trend increasing pattern

national budget money for the government to spend

cutting down on reducing

makes disinterested sense logical

swayed influenced

instant gratification pleasure right away

cold calculation rational

effective measure good method

consumption use

more widely available ubiquitous

attack the problem deal with

root source origin/cause

Pronunciation

ˈhɛvɪˈhændɪd 
kəmˈpɛl 
ˈræʃənl sɛns
ˈækʧʊəl ɪˈfɛktɪvnəs 
ˈkwɛsʧənəbl
ˈɑːgjuː ɪn ˈfeɪvər ɒv 
pɔɪnt tuː 
ˈlɒʤɪkəl ʧeɪn 
ˌsʌpəˈzɪʃənz
əˈkeɪʒənl ˈmændeɪtɪd praɪs haɪk
ɪnˈstrʌktɪv kəˈrɒləri
pʊʃ θruː 
ˈhɛvɪli
əˈdɪktɪd 
pɪk ʌp 
tuː bɪˈgɪn wɪð
prəˈpəʊnənts 
ˌkɑːdɪəʊˈvæskjʊlə dɪˈziːz
ˌdaɪəˈbiːtiːz 
ˈkænsə
nɛkst ˌʤɛnəˈreɪʃən 
hɛlθ ˈkɒnʃəs 
ˈfɜːðə ˈtrɪkl daʊn 
wɛl ˈriːznd
strɒŋ ˈɛvɪdəns 
ˈdeɪtɪŋ bæk ˈsɛnʧʊriz
wɔːr ɒv ˌɪndɪˈpɛndəns 
ˈnjuːli fɔːmd 
ˈdaɪəli 
ˈlʌkʃəriz
ˈləʊə kənˈsʌm(p)ʃən 
ʌnˈpɒpjʊlər ækts 
ɪnˈtɜːnəli ˈvɪndɪkeɪtɪd 
grəʊθ trɛnd
ˈnæʃənl ˈbʌʤɪt
ˈkʌtɪŋ daʊn ɒn 
meɪks dɪsˈɪntrɪstɪd sɛns
sweɪd 
ˈɪnstənt ˌgrætɪfɪˈkeɪʃən 
kəʊld ˌkælkjʊˈleɪʃən
ɪˈfɛktɪv ˈmɛʒə 
kənˈsʌm(p)ʃən
mɔː ˈwaɪdli əˈveɪləbl 
əˈtæk ðə ˈprɒbləm 
ruːt sɔːs

Listen and repeat:

Vocabulary Practice

Remember and fill in the blanks:

Some think that h_____________ governmental taxation is the only way to c_____________ healthier eating. In my opinion, while this makes r_____________ , its a_____________ is q_____________.

Those that a_____________ these taxes can p_____________ a l_____________ of s_____________. Though taxes on unhealthy foods are rare, there is the o_____________ for sugary drinks and fast food, smoking is an i_____________. Several decades after research showed that smoking causes cancer, governments were able to p_____________ legislation to tax cigarettes h_____________. The result was that those already a_____________ to smoking continued to smoke but many people did not p_____________ the habit t_____________. P_____________ argue this would also be the case when it comes to foods known to cause c_____________, d_____________ and c_____________. Many would eat them despite higher prices but the n_____________ would become more h_____________ and that would f _____________ to their children.

Though the above argument is w_____________, people will still buy luxuries. There is s_____________ for this d_____________. After the w_____________ from Britain, the _____________ United States instituted d_____________ needed taxes on l_____________ including whiskey and chocolate. The purpose of the taxes was to raise money, not to l_____________ of those products. The u_____________ were i_____________ when people continued to buy luxuries along the same g_____________, enabling them to increase the n_____________. Even though c_____________ purely pleasurable products m_____________, people are more s_____________ by i_____________ than c_____________.

In conclusion, taxes on unhealthy foods would not be an e_____________ against their c _____________. Instead, governments should invest more in healthy school lunches and making healthy products m_____________ to a _____________ at its r _____________.

Listen and check:

Listening Practice

Listen to the video below to practice your listening and get some ideas about the topic:

Reading Practice

Read here about the success of junk food taxes in Mexico and Hungary:

https://www.vox.com/2018/1/17/16870014/junk-food-tax

Speaking Practice

Answer the questions below from the real IELTS speaking test related to food:

Food

  1. What kinds of foods do you like to eat?
  2. How different is food in your country today from when you were younger?
  3. Which foods do you dislike?
  4. What foods do people in your country buy at the market?

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