After a decade of analyzing environmental influences on substance use and its consequences among youth in the United States, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Bridging the Gap program has begun studying the effect of environmental factors on youth physical activity, diet, and weight outcomes. Much of this research has focused on access to food, as reflected by availability and price. Program researchers have documented disparities in access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity; healthier food outlets and opportunities for physical activity are relatively less available in communities with lower income and larger proportions of racial/ethnic minority populations. They also have found that healthier environments are associated with more fruit and vegetable consumption, more physical activity, lower body mass index, and reduced likelihood of obesity among youth.
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