Family-Based Media Literacy Approach to Improving Youth and Family Nutrition

Improving Youth and Family Nutrition
A Family-Based Media Literacy Approach to Improving Youth and Family Nutrition

Funding Source: U.S Department of Agriculture
Principal Investigator: Marilyn Cohen

Project Summary:
The project involves both parents and their children in a program that focuses on the media’s role in the issue of childhood obesity. Childhood obesity has become a very serious issue all across this country. Not only is there a high probability that overweight children will become overweight adults but all our children are increasingly at risk for a host of serious health issues including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease based on their food choices. The rates at which these health problems are increasing among U.S. children are truly alarming.

Recent statistics reveal that the food industry spends $1.79 billion a year targeting children with its marketing efforts that focus on foods high in sugar, fat and salt. Since the average child sees approximately 3000 ads per day across multiple media platforms, current research is indicating that these media messages are having a great influence on their food choices. Further, our children are spending increasing amounts of time sitting in front of screens, a factor that has also been found to contribute to problems of overweight.

The NW Center for Excellence in Media Literacy (Director, Marilyn Cohen) is working in collaboration with Washington State University to develop and pilot this new program designed to impact food choices of the families involved. The new program will be delivered to both youth (9-14 years of age) and their parents over several sessions. This five-year project will also involve follow-up research efforts with those families participating in the sessions.

Please visit the project website at For more information regarding this project, contact Marilyn Cohen at