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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  • Litman EA, Gortmaker SL, Ebbeling CB, Ludwig DS. Source of bias in sugar-sweetened beverage research: a systematic review. Public Health Nutr 2018. PubMed
  • Sharifi M, Franz C, Horan CM, Giles CM, Long MW, Ward ZJ, Resch SC, Marshall R, Gortmaker SL, Taveras EM. Cost-Effectiveness of a Clinical Childhood Obesity Intervention. Pediatrics 2017. PubMed
  • Barnett EY, Ridker PM, Okechukwu CA, Gortmaker SL. Integrating children's physical activity enjoyment into public health dialogue (United States). Health Promot Int 2017. PubMed
  • Woo Baidal JA, Nelson CC, Perkins M, Colchamiro R, Leung-Strle P, Kwass JA, Gortmaker SL, Davison KK, Taveras EM. Childhood obesity prevention in the women, infants, and children program: Outcomes of the MA-CORD study. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2017; 25:1167-1174. PubMed
  • Taveras EM, Perkins M, Anand S, Woo Baidal JA, Nelson CC, Kamdar N, Kwass JA, Gortmaker SL, Barrett JL, Davison KK, Land T. Clinical effectiveness of the massachusetts childhood obesity research demonstration initiative among low-income children. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2017; 25:1159-1166. PubMed
  • Blaine RE, Franckle RL, Ganter C, Falbe J, Giles C, Criss S, Kwass JA, Land T, Gortmaker SL, Chuang E, Davison KK, . Using School Staff Members to Implement a Childhood Obesity Prevention Intervention in Low-Income School Districts: the Massachusetts Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration (MA-CORD Project), 2012-2014. Preventing Chronic Disease 2017; 14:E03. PubMed
  • Ward ZJ, Long MW, Resch SC, Giles CM, Cradock AL, Gortmaker SL. Simulation of Growth Trajectories of Childhood Obesity into Adulthood. N Engl J Med 2017; 377:2145-2153. PubMed
  • Criss S, Tran A, Ganter C, Aftosmes-Tobio A, Gortmaker S, Viswanath K, Kwass JA, Davison KK. A Cascade of Champions: A Qualitative Study about the MA-CORD Media Competition Implementation. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2016. 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
  • Lee RM, Emmons KM, Okechukwu CA, Barrett JL, Kenney EL, Cradock AL, Giles CM, deBlois 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 2015; 11:145. 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
  • Ludwig DS, Ebbeling CB, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. Hard facts about soft drinks. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2004; 158:290; author reply 290. 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
  • 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
  • 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.