About Us

Bridging the Gap was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded nationally recognized research program dedicated to improving the understanding of how policies and environmental factors influence diet, physical activity and obesity among youth, as well as youth tobacco use.

About Us

Bridging the Gap (BTG) was created in 1997 to assess the impact of policies, programs and other environmental influences on adolescent alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use and related outcomes. We examine these factors at multiple levels of social organization, including schools, communities and states.

In recognition of the high rates of obesity among children, adolescents and adults, we expanded our efforts in 2003 to include research on the policies, programs and other factors that contribute to physical activity/inactivity, dietary behaviors and obesity.

The program ended as of summer 2016.


Our extensive research shows the importance of school, community, state and other influences affecting adolescent use of tobacco and other substances.  

Our obesity-related research examines how environmental factors influence nutrition and physical activity among youth and helps to explain observed disparities based on race and ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

BTG Projects

BTG is a joint initiative of two research projects: ImpacTeen and Youth, Education and Society (YES). ImpacTeen is based at the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and YES is based at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.   

BTG was co-directed by Frank Chaloupka, Ph.D., at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Lloyd Johnston, Ph.D., at the University of Michigan. Additional leadership and technical assistance were provided for BTG by key program staff from both institutions.


Since its inception, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provided primary support for BTG.  Additional support for related research was provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the American Legacy Foundation (ALF), among others.

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