The following is the first short paper topic for COMM 3201 Health Communication. Choose one of the following questions to answer, actively drawing on the assigned readings and discussion in class.

1. What do we mean when scholars describe obesity as a wicked social problem? Explain the role that framing and metaphors play relative to wicked problems? What makes obesity as a social problem particularly susceptible to selective framing and the strategic use of metaphor? What influence do specific frames of reference or metaphors about obesity have on public attitudes and policy approaches? What role can/should journalists play in helping the public and policymakers understand obesity as a social problem and pursue different policy options?

2. Drawing on the Harris et al. article, describe the “toxic environment” thesis on how the food and advertising industries influence our eating habits and choices; particularly in targeting children. Discuss the psychological mechanisms by which advertising and similar strategies can influence us. What do Harris and colleagues argue are needed policies or regulations of the food and advertising industry? Next drawing on the Lee article, discuss how the debate over smoking may have influenced how public health researchers framed the obesity problem. What does Lee propose as an alternative framing and set of solutions?

Your paper should be approximately 1,000 words in length — and no longer than 1,500 words. Actively and substantively draw upon specific authors and readings to defend your analysis and arguments.

The paper is due in class on Thurs. Sept. 25.