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About the program

The Optimal Wellness for Life (OWL) Program at Boston Children's Hospital is a multidisciplinary clinic dedicated to improving the health and well-being of children with insulin resistance and other weight-related health complications. (Patients with type 2 diabetes will be seen by our Diabetes Program.)

Because weight gain is affected by the interplay of genetics, diet, physical activity level, and psychological factors, the OWL Program develops successful lifestyle interventions for children and adolescents with obesity. We develop an individualized care plan for every patient by combining the expertise of a range of specialists, including:

  • Pediatric endocrinologists
  • Registered dietitians
  • Behavioral medicine psychologists
  • Patient navigators 
  • Exercise program coordinator
  • Social worker

What to expect at the Optimal Wellness for Life (OWL) Program

Children and their families first complete a comprehensive evaluation in clinic by meeting with a medical provider, either a physician or nurse practitioner. If a family chooses to enroll in the OWL Program, they will then meet with their nutritionist and psychologist frequently for six months. They will also be seen by their medical provider every three to six months; specific timing of each appointment may be affected by staffing and scheduling constraints. After the initial period, ongoing care will be individualized for the patient and family. Below is an overview of the type of information discussed during your child’s visits with each OWL specialist:

Medical evaluation and monitoring

Medical evaluation and monitoring include providing a comprehensive personal and family history and undergoing a physical exam and laboratory tests to identify any underlying medical conditions (such as hormone problems) and potential weight-related medical complications (such as high cholesterol, insulin resistance, fatty liver, or polycystic ovary syndrome).

Nutritional education and counseling

Dietary modification is a primary treatment used in the OWL Program. We frequently recommend a low glycemic index eating plan to help improve blood glucose levels, appetite, energy level, and overall health. Depending on your child’s needs, other dietary approaches are available. During the initial evaluation, a dietitian will discuss how to ease the transition to a more healthful way of eating for your child and your family.

Health and behavior education and counseling

Behavior medicine consultation helps maximize the effectiveness of the medical and nutrition guidance offered in the OWL Program. Individual and family sessions with a psychologist focus on developing healthier habits for everyone at home. Small goals are established, progress is made step by step, and strategies are developed to address challenges. Psychologists also discuss how emotions are related to your child’s health. If greater emotional support is needed, we can assist with a referral to the appropriate providers.

Connecting families to community resources

Here at the OWL Program, we believe in the value of a strong support structure. OWL’s patient navigator can help children and their families connect to local resources such as fitness centers or food pantries to support a healthy lifestyle.

Schedule an OWL appointment

The Division of Endocrinology is pleased to announce that our call center for scheduling appointments is now open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. OWL medical, nutrition, and behavioral medicine appointments can be scheduled at our clinics in Boston, Peabody, and Waltham. Please call today to make an appointment with our specialists at 617-355-5159.