Steven Gortmaker

Steven Gortmaker

Professor of the Practice of Health Sociology

677 Huntington Avenue

Kresge Building 7th Floor
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: 617.432.1029


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 income poverty, social stress and social networks, to behaviors such as smoking, physical activity, television and other screen time, and diet.  Interventions include 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 the Harvard School of Public Health Prevention Research Center (HPRC). Established in 1998, the HPRC is one of 33 centers funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Our mission is to work with community partners to design, implement, and evaluate programs that improve nutrition and physical activity, reduce obesity and chronic disease risk among children and youth. HPRC projects involve community partners in every phase: conceptualization, design, planning, implementation and evaluation. Our long-term goals are to build community capacity to implement and evaluate effective prevention programs and to advance national knowledge regarding interventions that promote nutrition and physical activity.

A wide variety of intervention materials are available on our website:  Downloads include sample lessons from our school curriculum Planet Health and Eat Well and Keep Moving, the afterschool curriculum Food and Fun, and our out of school time intervention materials OSNAP.

The Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study (CHOICES) project is a collaboration between the Harvard School of Public Health, Columbia University, and research partners at Deakin and Queensland Universities. The CHOICES Research Team is producing recommendations for 40 cost-effective childhood obesity intervention strategies for a range of settings, including local, state and national governments, businesses, communities and schools. The first results of CHOICES are five papers currently in press at the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. CHOICES is funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the CDC, including the Nutrition and Obesity Policy, Research and Evaluation Network, and the JPB Foundation.


Ph.D., 1977, University of Wisconsin, Madison