Bridging the Gap's Work on Childhood Obesity

Research informing practice and policy for healthy youth behavior

Dates of Program: March 2003 through June 2015

Description: Bridging the Gap collects data from multiple sources—including the annual Monitoring the Future survey, of some 50,000 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students, as well as administrators at the schools they attend—and the surrounding neighborhoods—observations in parks and on streets, outdoor advertising, and stores and vendor.

It also gathers information about school district, city, state, and national policies that set the stage for school practices. It then conducts research that establishes links across these multiple perspectives, over time, to illuminate factors that most influence the decisions students make about their health.

“The quality and richness of Bridging the Gap data was unlike that of any other research entity.”–Bridging the Gap assessment, September 2013

Key Findings

  • Bridging the Gap is the only study in the United States that can assess the effects of policies and environments at the school, community, state, and national levels, and link them to self-report measures of diet, physical activity, and BMI.

  • The program has been widely credited with informing policies related to school nutrition, especially the federal Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

  • Bridging the Gap’s work on the effect of taxing sugar-sweetened beverages on consumption and employment has garnered national attention and is used by advocates urging state legislators to develop taxation policies.

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Bridging the Gap can identify policies that promote a #cultureofhealth & help youth make healthy decisions.