Skimming is a technique employed when we need to find important ideas in a reading material. For example, when a person skims a newspaper article, he or she often reads the headline and the first paragraph which contains an overview of information. The reader is not interested in total comprehension, but instead trying to locate the main points and major details.

Many readers find skimming helpful when they need to quickly determine the crux of a text. It is a top-down strategy that helps us activate prior knowledge on a given topic, and serves as a basis for making inferences as well as integrating new information obtained from the text.

When we run quickly over sentences in order to understand the main ideas through key words, we are using the skimming strategy. It is basically about spending time on the introduction and topic sentences, in order to have a general idea of what we are reading before skimming through the rest and processing topical words that re-enforce our understanding of the main ideas. When the reader is confronted with a pertinent or an interesting piece of information, paragraph or section in a text, he or she needs to slow the reading speed to gain a more in-depth understanding of the information or argument.

AUTHENTIC READING PRACTICE

Read the newspaper article below and skim for the main ideas.

Diet Soda in Pregnancy Is Linked to Overweight Babies

Drinking diet soda and other artificially sweetened beverages during pregnancy is associated with having overweight 1-year-olds, according to a new report.

Canadian researchers studied 3,033 mothers who delivered healthy singletons between 2009 and 2012 and had completed diet questionnaires during their pregnancies. They then examined the babies when they were a year old. Almost 30 percent of the women drank artificially sweetened beverages during pregnancy.

After controlling for maternal body mass index, age, breastfeeding duration, maternal smoking, maternal diabetes, timing of the introduction of solid foods and other factors, they found that compared with women who drank no diet beverages, those who drank, on average, one can of diet soda a day doubled the risk of having an overweight 1-year-old.

The study, in JAMA Pediatrics, found no association with infant birth weight, suggesting that the effect is on postnatal, not fetal, growth. The mother’s consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks was not associated with increased risk for overweight babies.

“This is an association, and not a causal link,” said the lead author, Meghan B. Azad, an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba. “But it certainly raises the question of whether artificial sweeteners are harmless. It’s not time to ban them or tell everyone not to consume them, but there’s no great benefit to consuming these drinks, so there’s no harm in avoiding them.”

(Adapted from The New York Times)

[spoiler title=’Suggested Answers’ style=’default’ collapse_link=’true’]

Key words: artificially sweetened beverages, pregnancy, overweight babies

  • Drinking artificially sweetened beverages during pregnancy is associated with having overweight children.
  • A mother’s consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks was not associated with increased risks for overweight children—the effect is on postnatal, and not fetal, growth.

[/spoiler]

References
Acknowledgements

All authors must admit to a dependence on the work of others. We are no exception. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the publications and reference sources that we have consulted and adapted for educational purposes. It would also have been quite impossible to have produced the material on this website without adapting a variety of authentic resources that we have regularly referred to. While every effort has been made, it has not always been possible to identify and cite the sources of all the material used or to trace all copyright holders. We will be happy to omit any contents or include any appropriate acknowledgements when they are brought to our notice.

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