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Visiting the OWL program

Because weight gain 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 exercise to develop successful lifestyle interventions for children and adolescents with obesity.

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

Initial consultation

Medical information

You should have your child’s medical information from their primary care physician or other providers outside of Boston Children's Hospital (such as growth charts, relevant notes, and recent lab results) faxed to 617-730-0194 before your visit.

Your arrival

The OWL program is offered at several Boston Children’s locations. 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.

Your visit

We ask for any adult attending a visit at Boston Children’s please have a photo ID on them. Adults may be asked to show photo ID prior to entering the hospital.

Patients will meet with a physician or nurse practitioner.

We will:

  • discuss the possible reasons why the patient is overweight/obese
  • review potential complications of excessive body weight
  • formulate a follow-up plan

The following evaluation will be performed:

  • comprehensive personal and family history
  • physical examination
  • laboratory tests

The purpose of this evaluation is to identify any underlying medical conditions (such as a hormone problem) and potential complications (such as high cholesterol, insulin resistance, fatty liver, or polycystic ovary syndrome).

In addition, patients in the OWL program often participate in research studies. You may be approached to participate in a study. Your participation in any study is completely optional; your decision about participation in a study will have no effect on the care that you receive.

Return appointments

If the family opts to participate in the OWL program, we will schedule follow-up visits.

A minimum commitment of six months is required in order to fully integrate lifestyle changes. After the six months, the follow-up appointments will be determined with your team.