Although magazine models seem to have the “ideal” body you’re looking for, no single number on a scale is healthy for all 16-year-olds. Teens your age can have different body frames, ranging from lanky to bulky, and still be healthy. Additionally, teens grow at different rates. One 16-year-old may just be starting his growth spurt while his best friend’s body looks almost fully grown. Still, one way to determine whether your weight lies within a healthy range is to gauge your BMI, or body mass index.
Your BMI is a number you can calculate by entering your weight and height into a formula. BMI can reliably indicate how much body fat you have but it isn’t a direct measurement. Your family doctor would need to do a direct test such as a skinfold measurement to fully gauge your fat percentage. To calculate your own BMI, square your height in inches, divide your weight in pounds by your squared height and multiply the result by 703.
Using BMI alone to determine your health at age 16 isn’t reliable. This is primarily because your ideal weight and fat percentage range changes quickly as you grow. Therefore, your family doctor will probably plot your BMI on a chart called a BMI-for-age growth chart, which compares your score with averages for other 16-year-olds of your sex. If your BMI lands somewhere between the fifth and 85th percentile, your weight is likely in a healthy range. If it’s under the fifth percentile, you’re considered underweight for a 16-year-old. If your BMI is at the 85th to the 95th percentile you’re in the overweight category. If it’s at or higher than the 95th percentile, you’re considered obese.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts from 2000, if you’re a 16-year-old male with a BMI of 17.13 to 17.65, you’re in the fifth percentile for guys your age. You would be on the lower end of the range if you’re barely 16 and on the higher end if you’re almost 17. Your BMI would be in the 50th percentile if it ranges from 20.67 to 21.19 and in the 85th percentile if it is somewhere between 24.21 and 24.88. If you’re a 16-year-old female, your BMI would be in the fifth percentile if it is somewhere between 16.79 and 17.18, in the 50th percentile if it is somewhere between 20.45 and 20.87 and in the 85th percentile if somewhere between 24.66 and 25.16.
Your BMI may not line up exactly with the averages. You could be heavy but have a lot of muscle weight, which causes your BMI to be in the 87th percentile. Alternately, you may be small and still have more than a healthy amount of fat, warns the CDC. Rather than relying on numbers alone, get a full physical from your family doctor and you will get a more realistic idea of how healthy you are.