Stories about: Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Program

Eating well and feeling good, family-style

A woman holding a bag of fruit.

It’s well known that childhood obesity is a problem in the U.S. But did you know that by the time they enter kindergarten, 12.4% of American children are already obese, and 14.9% are overweight?

It’s never too early to think about healthy eating.

The Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Program is a multidisciplinary clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital, dedicated to treating children who are overweight or obese, and those with or at risk for type 2 diabetes.

When it comes to a healthy diet — whether you are making new changes or trying to keep up with a routine — it helps to know where you are going. Having a plan can create the background for staying on track with your healthy goals.

Here are some steps to help keep your family eating well and feeling good.

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A parent’s guide to healthy weight loss in children

A parent's guide to healthy weight loss in children.

Today, up to 30 percent of children and adolescents are considered to be overweight or obese. This “obesity epidemic” is a source of great concern to parents and caregivers alike, as these kids face an increased risk of a host of serious medical and behavioral health complications, including type 2 diabetes.

We sat down with Dr. Robert Markowitz and dietitian Sharon Weston of the Boston Children’s Hospital Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Program to help parents support their children in maintaining an optimal weight.

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Experience Journal: Growing up overweight

experience-journal-perserving-imageChildren can become overweight or obese for many reasons, including genetics, diet, level of physical activity and psychological issues. Regardless of the cause, significant excess weight can have serious long-term health risks and must be addressed head on.
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The Overweight Experience Journal, created by the Boston Children’s Hospital Department of Psychiatry and the Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Program, represents the collective wisdom of patients and families living with weight issues. Here are some of their stories, in their own words.

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For patients in the OWL Program, joining a rowing team makes all the difference

The OWL team rowing at Agganis Arena

When it comes to achieving a healthy weight, nutrition is only one part of the process. Adding exercise to the mix helps build heart health and strength, and—perhaps of equal importance—it also helps build self-confidence.

While regular exercise is paramount, it’s not always easy for a teenager to join their high school’s competitive teams to stay in shape. “It’s hard to tell a kid to join something like soccer if they’ve never done it before, and their peers have been doing it since they were toddlers,” says Sarah Picard, MA, Med, physical activity specialist at Boston Children’s Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Program.

This year with the help of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center, Picard created a solution to that problem, and established OWL on the Water—a joint program with Community Rowing Inc. that allows OWL patients to form an exclusive rowing team, thereby providing habitual exercise and promoting teamwork.

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