Optimal Weight for Life Program New Balance Foundation Owl On The Road Program

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The New Balance Foundation Optimal Weight for Life On the Road Program provides a multidisciplinary approach to the evaluation and management of children who are overweight or obese.  The program serves five local community health centers in Boston, visiting each clinic one day every five weeks and caring for patients ages 2 through 21 affiliated with the health centers. Using the same multidisciplinary approach as the OWL Program, the program integrates clinical research and practice to provide ongoing support for both patient and family.

Comprehensive Medical Evaluation

All new patients are evaluated by a medical provider, either a physician or nurse practitioner (supervised by an attending physician). This evaluation includes:

  • obtaining a comprehensive personal and family history
  • physical examination
  • reviewing screening lab tests ordered by your primary care provider

The purpose of this evaluation is to determine if any underlying medical condition (such as a hormone problem) and weight-related complications (including high cholesterol, diabetes, or gastrointestinal disease) are present.

Nutritional Counseling

The primary treatment approach is dietary modification. After a complete dietary analysis, dietary recommendations are individualized to the needs of the patient and family in a culturally respectful manner. We utilize a "low glycemic" index diet to help stabilize blood sugar after eating and thereby help control excessive appetite. During the initial evaluation, families meet privately with a dietitian to discuss practical aspects of starting the recommended meal plan.

Behavior Modification

Behavior modification focuses on increasing motivation to change the diet and level of physical activity through a combination of short-term individual and family psychotherapy sessions. These skills gained through these sessions may also help children cope with the emotional stresses associated with being overweight.


A first-time comprehensive evaluation can be scheduled by speaking with your child’s primary care provider.  Patients less than 18 years of age are required to have a parent/guardian present for each visit. 

Ages Served
We treat new patients aged 2 to 21 years who are cared for by that health center. Patients under the age of two are generally referred to a nutritionist for initial evaluation.  Exceptions, though rare, can be made on a case-by-case basis by one of our attending physicians.

Insurance and referrals
New Balance Foundation Owl on the Road is most generously funded by a grant from the New Balance Foundation.  There is no charge for our services, nor payment required.

Program staff



Robert Markowitz, MD
Susan Herel, MSN, CPNP-PC

Clinical Nutrition

Leslie Rathfon, MS, RD, LDN

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Shannon Hourigan, Ph.D.


The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944