Public Health Issues : Childhood Obesity and What We Can Do

8th Grade Cross-Curricular Research Project Pathfinder


This pathfinder leads 8th grade students to first a basic understanding of the issue of childhood obesity, and then to a more narrow focus of how government policies and officials have tried to impact the issue in the United States. The purpose of this research is to help students make judgments about the rights of the government to create and enforce policies that impact public health. Students will use a variety of paper and electronic sources to complete their research.

Core Curriculum Connections

This pathfinder will address the following Iowa Core Curriculum benchmarks for grades 6-8:

Civic Literacy
  • Understand the concepts of constitutional government as fundamental principles of American democracy.
  • Understand the essential characteristics of limited and unlimited governments.
  • Understand values such as individual rights, the common good, self government, justice, equality, diversity, openness and free inquiry, truth, patriotism are fundamental to American public life.
  • Understand issues regarding personal, political, and economic rights.
  • Understand what is meant by the "scope and limits" of a right.

Health Literacy
  • Demonstrate functional health literacy skills to obtain, interpret, understand and use basic health concepts to enhance personal, family and community health.
  • Employ media literacy skills to analyze media and other influences to effectively manage personal, family and community health situations.
  • Apply critical literacy/thinking skills related to personal, family and community wellness.

Information Literacy
  • Identify purposes of visual media
  • Engage in the information literacy process: access, evaluate, and communicate information and ideas.

Technology Literacy
  • Use critical thinking skills to conduct research, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate technological tools and resources.

Social Studies
  • Understand that technology is important in spreading ideas, values, and behavior patterns within a society and among different societies.
  • Understand that the media may influence the behavior and decision-making of individuals and groups.
  • Understand the ways family, gender, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic factors and institutional affiliations contribute to personal identity.
  • Understand the role of individuals and groups within a society as promoters of change or the status quo.

Students Start Here



Take notes as you go along and keep track of any sources you use for your bibliography!

Search Tips

Here are some terms and subject headings that might be helpful to you in your searching.

  • "childhood obesity" (or) childhood AND obesity
  • “public health policy” (or) "public health" AND (policy or regulation)
  • “Obama, Michelle”
  • "Healthy Kids Act"
  • Obesity

Don't forget to check the non-fiction section of the library for even more great information!
  • Nutrition: 613
  • Childhood Obesity: 618.9
  • Social or Government Policy: 361.6


Start your research at #1 and work your way down to #16 ! Some sources will be online, others in the library!

Helpful Hints
World Book Online Student (World Book, 2010)
Try searching for general information about childhood obesity here. Use the Student search first – if you want more info, try the Advanced search!
Encyclopedia Americana. (Grolier, 2010).
REF AE5 .E333
Cross reference the information you found on Worldbook Online with a paper source – is it the same info? More? Less? Think about different keywords you could use to find additional info.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2010)
Use this dictionary to find definitions, pronunciations and context for any words you don’t know when searching. Try using the synonyms you find as a way to search more in depth!
Atlas of the World (National Geographic, 2005)
Map REF G1021 .N38
This Atlas includes more than maps… look in the Nations for information about health, including diseases and obesity.
Teen Health & Wellness (Rosen, 2010)
Click on the sidebar topic “Nutrition, Fitness, and Appearance” to find out specific information about obesity, its preventions, treatment, and effects. Also, look for info about what the USDA is doing to teach youth about nutrition.
Health Reference Center (Facts on File, 2010)
Search for more information on obesity, or check out the “Heath in the News” section to find up-to-date info about the issue.
HEALTH: Marshal Cavendish Digital. (Marshal Cavendish, 2010)
Browse through subjects on the sidebar or search for specific information about your topic – this encyclopedia gives you a totally different perspective from others. Try searching for childhood obesity and see what new info you can find!
SOCIAL STUDIES: Marshal Cavendish Digital. (Marshal Cavendish, 2010)
Search in the “open for debate” section for obesity to get an idea of how America is handling this health issue.
Encyclopedia of Obesity & Eating Disorders 3rd Edition. ( Facts on File, 2006)
REF RC552.E18 C37
Check the index for media influences and government in this source! Sorry, no table of contents, so check the index for quick searching!
First Lady Michelle Obama (The White House, 2010).
Read the government approved short biography of Michelle Obama here. Look out for references to her stance on health issues.
“U.S. Shifts Health Focus from Tobacco to Obesity” Duff Wilson. (International Herald Tribune, July 29, 2010)
Accessed via SIRS:
This article will give you some more background on how the US is handling the obesity issue. Try searching SIRS for other controversies related to health.
“Michelle Obama’s Federal Fat Farm.” Michael Tennant. (New American, Vol. 26, Iss. 18, September 13, 2010)
Accessed via EBSCO Student Research Center.
Just one of many articles available from magazines and newspapers via EBSCO Student Research Center. For the best results, check the boxes only for the types of items you want to find and use Boolean and phrase searching in the search bar.
“Stopping Childhood Obesity.” (Discovery Education, 2001)
This video is one that talks about prevention and treatment of childhood obesity – think about how the ideas suggested here could be included in government policy? Search this site for more videos that suggest the roles of each of us in helping combat this problem.
“Stuffed” by Eric Walters. (Orca Books, 2006).
This chapter book proves that one person really can make a difference in the fight against obesity!
Citizens’ Rights and Responsibities. (, 2010)
Looking for the government’s side of story? Look under citizen’s rights to find out what your job is in the fight against obesity.
Ms. Sims – your teacher librarian!
As always, you should try your hardest to work independently…. but, if you get stuck at any point, please ask me to help you get unstuck! I can offer you help when brainstorming, when searching, and when taking notes. Maybe I’ll have a great tip for you!

You should now have enough information to form your own opinion on the role of government in public health issues!

What do you think?

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