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Is There an Ideal Weight and Height for Teenagers?

by
author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
Is There an Ideal Weight and Height for Teenagers?
Physical changes affect your height and weight during your teen years, so there's no single ideal height and weight for a teen. Photo Credit Gary John Norman/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Physical changes will dramatically affect your height and weight during your teen years, so there's no single ideal height and weight for a teen. Your body type and genetics affect your rate of growth. If you're concerned about your size, speak with your doctor so he can determine if you're on track, or if some minor adjustments might improve your health. Eating a quality diet, getting regular exercise, adequate sleep and ample hydration will help you achieve the healthiest body you can for your age, size and gender.

Puberty Affects Height and Weight

Your body undergoes tremendous changes during puberty. Puberty can start as early as 8 or 9 for girls or 12 to 14 for boys, and it continues well into your teens. As boys grow taller and put on more muscle, boys' shoulders will broaden. Girls deposit more fat, develop breasts and also grow taller in their teens. Some teens experience delayed puberty, which means they start to develop adult heights and weights later than other teens, but eventually they do catch up to their peers. Your doctor can help you determine if delayed puberty is something you should be concerned about.

Once you reach puberty, the changes in your body can take three to four years to fully develop. Your height and weight depends a lot on where you are in the process of puberty. Because puberty begins at a different time for everyone, establishing an ideal weight and height for a teen is nearly impossible.

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Using Body Mass Index for Teenagers

A measure known as the body mass index, or BMI, can help you determine if your weight is healthy for your height. Child and adolescent BMI is age- and gender-specific, unlike adult BMI. When your BMI for your age is too low, it could indicate that you're underweight and at risk for low energy, poor immunity and nutritional deficiencies. If your BMI is too high, it could indicate excessive fat that puts you at risk for diseases associated with being overweight or obese. The easiest way to figure out your BMI is to use an online calculator -- just make sure it's a calculator designed for teens, since adult calculators won't be accurate.

A teen's BMI is interpreted by comparing it to the measurements of other teens of the same gender and age, based on growth charts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, a teen would be considered overweight if his BMI exceeds the 85th percentile or obese if it exceeds the 95th percentile. An underweight BMI is less than the 5th percentile. A healthy BMI falls in the 5th to 85th percentile.

Unhealthy Teen Body Sizes

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2010, approximately one-third of children and adolescents from age 6 to 19 are overweight, and approximately 17 percent are obese. Because teens grow at different rates, determining if you're too heavy can be a challenge. Teens whose BMI falls into an overweight or obese category may have additional tests performed to determine if his weight affects his health. These tests include skinfold measurements, reviews of diet and physical activity, family history and blood screenings.

A health care provider may direct underweight teens to gain with a surplus of calories and moderate physical activity. Consuming larger portion sizes, eating healthier high-calorie foods and snacking regularly can help you gain weight.

Healthy Habits for Your Ideal Body

A teen may feel like he's a noticeably different size than his peers, but he may be perfectly healthy. Some teens are naturally shorter, leaner, taller or stockier than other teens. Parents and grandparents are a great visual resource for checking your body type. If both your parents are lean and lithe, then you may be a lanky teen who has trouble putting on substantial muscle mass to play football. That doesn't mean you're unhealthy or abnormal -- it's just who you are, and it's ideal for the unique person you are.

Peer pressure and images of pop stars, sports heroes and actors also contribute to body image. Instead of worrying about your size, focus on being the healthiest you possible. To do the best you can, get at least an hour of activity a day and eat mostly whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and low-fat dairy. A teen whose weight is a potential concern should follow the directives of a doctor to achieve a healthier size.

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