Chewing Betel

Chewing betel quids (quid = a portion of something, especially tobacco, that is to be chewed but not swallowed) is a popular habit among many people in Myanmar. It is habit that is over 2,000 years old, and it is estimated that some 10 percent of the world’s population chew betel nut.

People chew betel quids for a range of benefits. Prolonged (=over a long time) chewing is generally believed to keep the gums healthy by strengthening them. It also seems to prevent tooth decay as long as the teeth are cleaned. The reasons for these positive aspects of betel chewing are probably the fluoride content and the antibacterial effect of the betel leaf.

On the other hand, it has been proven that betel stains teeth dark red and causes tooth decay. Betel is also mildly addictive. It gives the user a general feeling of “well-being” and this contributes to the popularity of betel chewing.

  1. Read the five multiple choice questions below.

  2. Identify key words (e.g. World Health Organisation, betel quids, advocacy group etc).

  3. Predict a correct answer and/or identify any clearly incorrect answers.

  4. Watch and listen to the video below

  5. Finally, enter your answers into the test sheet.

1. World Health Organisation figures reveal that in Myanmar

  • 35% of women chew betel

  • over half of the men chew betel

  • almost 25% of men chew betel

2. In Myanmar, betel quids are

  • usually sold in packs

  • usually mixed with tobacco

  • usually inexpensive to buy

3. The People's Health Foundation is an health advocacy group

  • trying to raise awareness about the dangers of chewing betel

  • promoting the use of alternative drugs

  • focused on stopping women from chewing betel

4. According to WHO, a regular betel chewer's risk of getting oral cancer

  • is the same as someone who doesn't chew betel

  • is seven times that of a non-user

  • is greater than the risk of stomach cancer

5. In the future, it is expected that Betel juice chewing

  • will continue to be popular in Myanmar

  • will become less popular in Myanmar

  • will become popular in other SE Asian countries


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