Optimal Wellness for Life (OWL) Program| Your Visit

Because obesity is affected by the interplay of genetics, diet, physical activity level, and psychological factors, the OWL Program at Boston Children's combines the expertise of specialists in endocrinology, nutrition, behavioral medicine, social work, and physical therapy to develop successful lifestyle interventions for obese children and adolescents.

The OWL Program gladly accepts new patients from 2 to 21 years of age with their families. Patients under 18 years of age are required to have a parent/guardian present for each visit. Patients under 2 years of age are generally referred to the Clinical Nutrition Service for initial evaluation; exceptions, though rare, can be made on case-by-case basis by one of our attending physicians.

Medical Evaluation

All new patients will be evaluated by an attending physician and sometimes by a nurse practitioner. This examination includes:

  • Comprehensive personal and family history
  • Physical Examination
  • Laboratory Tests
  • Diabetes Education and Management

The purpose of this evaluation is to identify any underlying medical conditions (such as a hormone problem) and potential complications (including high cholesterol, diabetes, or gastrointestinal disease).

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

The OWL program sometimes participates in research studies. You may be approached to participate. Your participation in any study is completely optional; your decisions will have no effect on care that you receive.

Initial Consultation

Patients will meet with a nurse practitioner and/or physician, a dietitian, and usually, a psychologist. We will:

  • discuss the possible reasons why the patient is overweight/obese
  • review potential complications of excessive body weight, including issues related to self-esteem
  • provide an individualized dietary treatment plan and physical activity goal
  • formulate a plan for long term follow-up possibility including individual behavioral modification and/or group therapy

Medical information

Additionally, you should bring or fax medical information from primary care/other providers outside of Boston Children's (such as growth charts, relevant notes, and recent lab results) to your visit.

Your arrival

We are located at Boston Children's main campus in the Fegan Building on the fifth floor. At least one parent/legal guardian must accompany patients below the age of 18. It is important that family members who are involved in meal planning, shopping and cooking attend the appointment if possible.

Return Appointments

We generally recommend follow-up appointments within several weeks of the initial evaluation and then again every two months until a satisfactory body weight has been achieved. The patient may be seen by any combination of providers (medical, nutrition, behavioral medicine) based on each individual child's needs.

A minimum commitment of three follow-up visits over the first six months is strongly recommended in order to fully integrate into lifestyle changes.