Investigation Topic: An Epidemic of Obese Children


You will be working with your research group for this project also. This is the biggest project of the unit. You will be reading several resources on media and childhood obesity. Read carefully and take good notes; your group will be adding information to a class Wiki. Finally, your group will write a letter to the editor of your local paper that warns parents of the link between advertising and childhood obesity and what they can do about it.

Strategies for the research part of this project:

  1. Divide all the articles among you. This is easier in one way, but also harder. You have to rely on one person to get the main ideas from an article. Each of you has a greater responsibility to understand and communicate what you learned from one of the resources. It will take time for each of you to explain the article you read to the others in your group.
  2. Everyone reads all of the articles and then compares notes. This options provides the opportunity for more accuracy and more information overall. The drawback is that it could be more time consuming. On the other hand, you won't need to take time to explain each article. You can move right into the Wiki step.


  1. Read at least three of the resources below:
    1. Kaiser Foundation Report (this is a big document; skim to find information on your topic)
      1. This article on PRNEWSWIRE summarizes the Kaiser Foundation Report.
    2. National Institute on Media and the Family Fact Sheet
    3. MSNBC article: Stop Advertising Junk Food to Kids
    4. NY Times article: Report Links Obesity to Advertising
    5. Two editorials: Are parents or advertising at fault? (Read both of them)
    6. Online Newshour: Jeffrey Brown speaks with Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, former Director of the Centers for Disease Control, about a new report on why more kids are overweight.
    7. Do a Google search for "advertising and childhood" obesity for other resources.
  2. Begin with a KWL chart if you need it. This graphic organizer is optional. Either way, read carefully and be looking for main ideas and key concepts. Using a note taking form will help you keep main ideas (per source) organized. Use the form linked below or create your own.
  3. Take careful notes. This is not optional. You will need to refer to them for the Wiki and the letter. Document the site from which you get your information. Download pdf and print out to hand write. Open and save Word doc. to type. Your teacher will also have copies of this note form for you.

Report on the Wiki

  1. Your group will post an article (a paragraph or two) about childhood obesity and advertising on the Wiki.
    1. The Wiki password is our room number followed by our class acronym.
    2. As a group, login to the Wiki and post your content on the correct page for your class.
    3. Your article needs a title and a byline (by your first names).
    4. Cite your sources one of two ways:
      1. Integrate the title of your source (website, article, etc.) into your text and link to the source. This is easiest and also good practice in documenting sources in your writing.
      2. Add a list of your works cited at the end of your article. Use MLA style.
    5. Make a link on this page back to your class's projects page.
    6. Make a link in your webfolio to your Wiki page (optional, but a great idea).
  2. What to write?
    1. After researching and taking notes, decide on a sub topic that is important to your group. Some suggested subtopics follow. It is best if you discover what you want to write about on your own, however.
    2. Use information from more than one source for your article.
    3. Write a well organized article. Here's a sample of student work from Mr. Bass's class Wiki.
    4. The Wiki is not editable by the public, but it can be viewed by the public, so keep that in mind as you write.
    5. Suggested sub topics:
      1. Age group most affected by advertising
      2. Types of food being advertised
      3. Physical activity or exercise found in advertising to children
      4. Attempts to change the negative effects
      5. Tie-ins to television shows or cartoon characters
      6. Other market methods besides television commercial

Take Action

  1. Finally, write a letter to the editor of your local paper on the following topic:
    1. Your adience is parents. Your task is to persuade them that there is a link between advertising and media and obesity in children. You should suggest what they can do to prevent it.
    2. Read about writing letters to the editor. You will find a sample letter there.
    3. Set up your letter like the sample, except you will need to add a street address to the newspaper's address. Use The Sheboygan Press.
  2. Your letter should be published on your group's Wiki page following your article.
    1. Write an introductory paragraph giving the context for the letter. State that it is a fictional letter that your group wrote after researching childhood obesity and the media. You should add anything else that seems appropriate.
  3. Optional: send your letter to the newspaper. See your teacher about this.


Media & Obesity


Basics of Media Literacy
Media Journal
Advertising to Kids
Media & Obesity Project
Test: Study Guide