Photo of Steven L. Gortmaker,  PhD

Steven L. Gortmaker, PhD

Harvard T.H. Chan School Of Public Health

Harvard T.H. Chan School Of Public Health
Phone: (617) 432-1135
Fax: (617) 432-3123

Steven L. Gortmaker, PhD

Harvard T.H. Chan School Of Public Health


  • Professor, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School Of Public Health


Research Abstract

My research is focused on the health of children and adolescents, particularly households living in poverty and minority populations. The major goal of this research has been to identify modifiable risks for morbidity and mortality in the young, and to both initiate and evaluate interventions to improve these outcomes. I have focused on a broad variety of risks, ranging from sociological concepts such as income poverty, social stress and social networks, to behaviors such as smoking, inactivity (exemplified by television viewing) and diet. Interventions have included work at both the level of national and state policy, programs at the regional, county, school, hospital, clinic and individual level. Research includes collaborative work with research groups at Harvard, in the Boston area, nationally, and internationally. I direct a CDC funded Prevention Research Center focused on improving diet and physical activity among youth and preventing obesity and chronic disease.

- Childhood chronic illness: causes, sequelae, quality of life;

- Childhood obesity: including school and community-based programs to improve diet and physical activity and reduce inactivity (e.g. television viewing);

- Effects of second-hand cigarette smoke on children;

- Socioeconomic and racial disparities in infant mortality;


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  • Lee RM, Emmons KM, Okechukwu CA, Barrett JL, Kenney EL, Cradock AL, Giles CM, de Blois ME, Gortmaker SL. Validity of a practitioner-administered observational tool to measure physical activity, nutrition, and screen time in school-age programs. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2014; 11:145. PubMed
  • Cespedes EM, Horan CM, Gillman MW, Gortmaker SL, Price S, Rifas-Shiman SL, Mitchell K, Taveras EM. Participant characteristics and intervention processes associated with reductions in television viewing in the High Five for Kids study. Prev Med 2014; 62:64-70. PubMed
  • Gortmaker SL, Taveras EM. Who becomes obese during childhood--clues to prevention. N Engl J Med 2014; 370:475-6. PubMed
  • Wright DR, Taveras EM, Gillman MW, Horan CM, Hohman KH, Gortmaker SL, Prosser LA. The cost of a primary care-based childhood obesity prevention intervention. BMC Health Serv Res 2014; 14:44. PubMed
  • Neuman M, Kawachi I, Gortmaker S, Subramanian S. National economic development and disparities in body mass index: a cross-sectional study of data from 38 countries. PLoS ONE 2014; 9:e99327. PubMed
  • Long MW, Sobol AM, Cradock AL, Subramanian SV, Blendon RJ, Gortmaker SL. School-day and overall physical activity among youth. Am J Prev Med 2013; 45:150-7. PubMed
  • Van Cleave J, Gortmaker SL, Perrin JM. Dynamics of obesity and chronic health conditions among children and youth. JAMA 2010; 303:623-30. PubMed
  • Gortmaker SL. Innovations to reduce television and computertime and obesity in childhood. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2008; 162:283-4. PubMed
  • Mimiaga MJ, Fair AD, Mayer KH, Koenen K, Gortmaker S, Tetu AM, Hobson J, Safren SA. Experiences and sexual behaviors of HIV-infected MSM who acquired HIV in the context of crystal methamphetamine use. AIDS Educ Prev 2008; 20:30-41. PubMed
  • Mimiaga MJ, Tetu AM, Gortmaker S, Koenen KC, Fair AD, Novak DS, Vanderwarker R, Bertrand T, Adelson S, Mayer KH. HIV and STD status among MSM and attitudes about Internet partner notification for STD exposure. Sex Transm Dis 2007; 35:111-6. PubMed
  • Nelson TF, Gortmaker SL, Subramanian SV, Wechsler H. Vigorous physical activity among college students in the United States. J Phys Act Health 2008; 4:495-508. PubMed
  • Cradock AL, Melly SJ, Allen JG, Morris JS, Gortmaker SL. Characteristics of school campuses and physical activity among youth. Am J Prev Med 2007; 33:106-113. PubMed
  • Nelson TF, Gortmaker SL, Subramanian SV, Cheung L, Wechsler H. Disparities in Overweight and Obesity Among US College Students. Am J Health Behav 2007; 31:363-373. PubMed
  • Perrin JM, Bloom SR, Gortmaker SL. The increase of childhood chronic conditions in the United States. JAMA 2007; 297:2755-9. PubMed
  • Taveras EM, Sobol AM, Hannon C, Finkelstein D, Wiecha J, Gortmaker SL. Youths' perceptions of overweight-related prevention counseling at a primary care visit. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2007; 15:831-6. PubMed
  • Franks A, Kelder SH, Dino GA, Horn KA, Gortmaker SL, Wiecha JL, Simoes EJ. School-based programs: lessons learned from CATCH, Planet Health, and Not-On-Tobacco. Preventing Chronic Disease 2007; 4:A33. PubMed
  • Karliner LS, Napoles-Springer A, Kerlikowske K, Haas JS, Gregorich SE, Kaplan CP. Missed opportunities: family history and behavioral risk factors in breast cancer risk assessment among a multiethnic group of women. J Gen Intern Med 2007; 22:308-14. PubMed
  • Wang YC, Gortmaker SL, Sobol AM, Kuntz KM. Estimating the energy gap among US children: a counterfactual approach. Pediatrics 2006; 118:e1721-33. PubMed
  • Wiecha JL, Peterson KE, Ludwig DS, Kim J, Sobol A, Gortmaker SL. When children eat what they watch: impact of television viewing on dietary intake in youth. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2006; 160:436-42. PubMed
  • Wiecha JL, El Ayadi AM, Fuemmeler BF, Carter JE, Handler S, Johnson S, Strunk N, Korzec-Ramirez D, Gortmaker SL. Diffusion of an integrated health education program in an urban school system: planet health. J Pediatr Psychol 2004; 29:467-74. PubMed
  • Ludwig DS, Gortmaker SL. Programming obesity in childhood. Lancet 2004; 364:226-7. PubMed
  • Ludwig DS, Ebbeling CB, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. Hard facts about soft drinks. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2004; 158:290; author reply 290. PubMed
  • Cradock AL, Wiecha JL, Peterson KE, Sobol AM, Colditz GA, Gortmaker SL. Youth recall and TriTrac accelerometer estimates of physical activity levels. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2004; 36:525-32. PubMed
  • Bowman SA, Gortmaker SL, Ebbeling CB, Pereira MA, Ludwig DS. Effects of fast-food consumption on energy intake and diet quality among children in a national household survey. Pediatrics 2004; 113:112-8. PubMed
  • Boynton-Jarrett R, Thomas TN, Peterson KE, Wiecha J, Sobol AM, Gortmaker SL. Impact of television viewing patterns on fruit and vegetable consumption among adolescents. Pediatrics 2003; 112:1321-6. PubMed
  • Dietz WH, Bland MG, Gortmaker SL, Molloy M, Schmid TL. Policy tools for the childhood obesity epidemic. J Law Med Ethics 2003; 30:83-7. PubMed
  • Gidwani PP, Sobol A, DeJong W, Perrin JM, Gortmaker SL. Television viewing and initiation of smoking among youth. Pediatrics 2002; 110:505-8. PubMed
  • Gortmaker SL, Hughes M, Cervia J, Brady M, Johnson GM, Seage GR, Song LY, Dankner WM, Oleske JM,. Effect of combination therapy including protease inhibitors on mortality among children and adolescents infected with HIV-1. N Engl J Med 2002; 345:1522-8. PubMed
  • Wiecha JL, Sobol AM, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. Household television access: associations with screen time, reading, and homework among youth. Ambul Pediatr 2002; 1:244-51. PubMed
  • Austin SB, Gortmaker SL. Dieting and smoking initiation in early adolescent girls and boys: a prospective study. Am J Public Health 2001; 91:446-50. PubMed
  • Ludwig DS, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. Lancet 2001; 357:505-8. PubMed
  • Dietz WH, Gortmaker SL. Preventing obesity in children and adolescents. Annu Rev Public Health 2001; 22:337-53. PubMed
  • Cradock AL, Melly SJ, Allen JG, Morris JS, Gortmaker SL. Characteristics of school campuses and physical activity among youth. Am J Prev Med 2007; 33:106-113.
  • Cradock AL, Barrett JL, Carter J, McHugh A, Sproul J, Russo ET, Dao-Tran P, Gortmaker SL. Impact of the Boston Active School Day policy to promote physical activity among children. Am J Health Promot 2014; 28:S54-64. PubMed
  • Gortmaker SL, Cheung LW, Peterson KE, Chomitz G, Cradle JH, Dart H, Fox MK, Bullock RB, Sobol AM, Colditz G, Field AE, Laird N. Impact of a school-based interdisciplinary intervention on diet and physical activity among urban primary school children: eat well and keep moving. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 1999; 153:975-83. PubMed
  • Hern. Association of obesity with physical activity, television programs and other forms of video viewing among children in Mexico city. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1999; 23:845-54. PubMed
  • Gortmaker SL, Peterson K, Wiecha J, Sobol AM, Dixit S, Fox MK, Laird N. Reducing obesity via a school-based interdisciplinary intervention among youth: Planet Health. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 1999; 153:409-18. PubMed
  • Field AE, Cheung L, Wolf AM, Herzog DB, Gortmaker SL, Colditz GA. Exposure to the mass media and weight concerns among girls. Pediatrics 1999; 103:E36. PubMed
  • Gortmaker SL, Mariani A, Peterson K, Cheung L, Wiecha J. Exercise. Cancer Causes Control 1998; 8 Suppl 1:S17-9. PubMed
  • Newacheck PW, Stein RE, Walker DK, Gortmaker SL, Kuhlthau K, Perrin JM. Monitoring and evaluating managed care for children with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Pediatrics 1996; 98:952-8. PubMed
  • Barfield WD, Wise PH, Rust FP, Rust KJ, Gould JB, Gortmaker SL. Racial disparities in outcomes of military and civilian births in California. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 1996; 150:1062-7. PubMed
  • Gortmaker SL, Must A, Sobol AM, Peterson K, Colditz GA, Dietz WH. Television viewing as a cause of increasing obesity among children in the United States, 1986-1990. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 1996; 150:356-62. PubMed
  • Ching PL, Willett WC, Rimm EB, Colditz GA, Gortmaker SL, Stampfer MJ. Activity level and risk of overweight in male health professionals. Am J Public Health 1996; 86:25-30. PubMed
  • Must A, Gortmaker SL, Dietz WH. Risk factors for obesity in young adults: Hispanics, African Americans and Whites in the transition years, age 16-28 years. Biomed Pharmacother 1994; 48:143-56. PubMed
  • Wolf AM, Gortmaker SL, Cheung L, Gray HM, Herzog DB, Colditz GA. Activity, inactivity, and obesity: racial, ethnic, and age differences among schoolgirls. Am J Public Health 1993; 83:1625-7. PubMed
  • Gortmaker SL, Must A, Perrin JM, Sobol AM, Dietz WH. Social and economic consequences of overweight in adolescence and young adulthood. N Engl J Med 1993; 329:1008-12. PubMed
  • Perrin EC, Newacheck P, Pless IB, Drotar D, Gortmaker SL, Leventhal J, Perrin JM, Stein RE, Walker DK, Weitzman M. Issues involved in the definition and classification of chronic health conditions. Pediatrics 1993; 91:787-93. PubMed
  • Weitzman M, Gortmaker SL, Sobol AM, Perrin JM. Recent trends in the prevalence and severity of childhood asthma. JAMA 1992; 268:2673-7. PubMed
  • McCormick MC, Gortmaker SL, Sobol AM. Very low birth weight children: behavior problems and school difficulty in a national sample. J Pediatr 1990; 117:687-93. PubMed
  • Gortmaker SL, Dietz WH, Cheung LW. Inactivity, diet, and the fattening of America. J Am Diet Assoc 1990; 90:1247-52, 1255. PubMed
  • Gortmaker SL, Walker DK, Weitzman M, Sobol AM. Chronic conditions, socioeconomic risks, and behavioral problems in children and adolescents. Pediatrics 1990; 85:267-76. PubMed
  • Gortmaker SL, Bickford AF, Mathewson HO, Dumbaugh K, Tirrell PC. A successful experiment to reduce unnecessary laboratory use in a community hospital. Med Care 1988; 26:631-42. PubMed
  • Stein RE, Gortmaker SL, Perrin EC, Perrin JM, Pless IB, Walker DK, Weitzman M. Severity of illness: concepts and measurements. Lancet 1987; 2:1506-9. PubMed
  • Gortmaker SL, Dietz WH, Sobol AM, Wehler CA. Increasing pediatric obesity in the United States. Am J Dis Child 1987; 141:535-40. PubMed