How much should a teenager weigh? Sounds like an easy question, right? Well, the answer is actually pretty complicated because not only is weight determined by a multitude of factors, but weight is also not always the best measurement of health and therefore other things have to be considered.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has determined percentile ranges that can classify a teenager as underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese. These percentiles are based on body mass index (BMI) and growth charts. BUT, weight doesn’t tell the whole story about someone’s health so you must look at all the factors involved.
The CDC growth charts classify a ‘normal’ weight as being between the 5th and 85th percentiles on the BMI-for-age growth charts. For example, a 16-year old female at 64 inches tall (5 feet 4 inches) would be classified a healthy weight between 98 and 143 pounds (44.5 to 65 kg). A 16-year old male at 68 inches tall (5 feet 8 inches) would be classified a healthy weight between 113 and 158 pounds (51 to 72 kg).
Read on for more information about what is a healthy weight for a 16-year old, how you can tell if you are at a healthy weight, when a 16-year old should lose weight or gain weight, if diets are appropriate for teenagers, and tips from a dietitian about how to reach and maintain a healthy weight!
What is a Healthy Weight for a 16-Year Old?
If your doctor has ever told you that you are at a healthy weight, or that you are over- or underweight, you might wonder how they reached that conclusion. Most doctors reach these classifications simply by taking your weight and height and plotting it on a growth chart. Growth charts can be helpful tools for seeing what is going on with your body over time, but it still doesn’t tell the whole story of your health status.
Let’s take a look at the percentile ranges that healthcare professionals use when looking at growth charts:
The CDC growth charts classify a ‘healthy’ weight as being between the 5th and 85th percentiles on the BMI-for-age growth charts. For example, according to the growth charts a 16-year old female at 64 inches tall (5 feet 4 inches) would be classified a healthy weight between 98 and 143 pounds (44.5 to 65 kg). A 16-year old male at 68 inches tall (5 feet 8 inches) would be classified a healthy weight between 113 and 158 pounds (51 to 72 kg).
While these classifications might be a good starting place for your healthcare provider, they should remember (and you should too!) that being in a certain category doesn’t automatically determine your health status.
These growth charts also don’t take into account things like genetics or muscle mass and body composition which are huge factors related to how much you weigh.
Did you notice how big the percentile range is for the healthy weight category? There is a huge range of what can be considered a healthy weight. And I will let you in on a little secret, just because someone is technically at a healthy weight doesn’t mean they are healthy overall. The number on the scale isn’t what is most important.
How Can You Tell if You are at a Healthy Weight?
If you have no idea if you are at a healthy weight or not, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to get a better idea:
- Do I feel energized?
- Am I satisfying my hunger and fullness cues?
- Am I sleeping well?
- Am I able to do all the daily activities I want to do?
- Does my lab work look good (blood tests etc.)?
- Is my weight fluctuating appropriately as I grow?
- For females: Are you having regular menstrual cycles?
- Is your mood pretty stable throughout the day when you are eating normally?
- Do you feel healthy?
This is definitely not a complete list, but it can give you a few things to think about regarding your current weight. A healthy weight should be one where you feel good, where you are meeting your body’s nutrient needs, and where you don’t have to go to extreme measures to maintain it. When focusing on healthy habits overall, your body normally settles into a weight that feels good to you.
When Should a 16-Year Old Lose Weight?
Intentionally trying to lose weight is usually not recommended to teenagers. Instead, if someone is over an appropriate weight for their body, they should focus on changing habits to slow additional gain.
Trying to lose weight can result in all sorts of problems. Since teenagers are in an important phase of life where they are continuing to grow and develop, it can be detrimental to not have enough calories and nutrients present to help in the process. Intentional weight loss often is done by reducing food intake, cutting out foods and placing strict rules on what and how much you can and cannot eat.
Teenagers should remember that since this is such a big time of growth and development, it might take them a little bit longer to settle into a weight that feels good to you. Give your body some grace and continue to be patient with your body while still nourishing it and taking care of it the best that you can.
Should a 16-Year Old Go on a Diet?
Dieting is not ever appropriate for teenagers, and it really isn’t appropriate for people of any age! Dieting usually restricts food intake, sets arbitrary food rules, and fights against what your body needs.
Diets don’t really nourish your body- in fact they usually do the opposite. Most people that diet might lose some weight initially but they often gain it back, plus some more in the long run.
Dieting is also highly linked to developing disordered eating and a poor relationship with food and your body. The teenage years are an essential time to be developing a good relationship with food since you are building so many lifelong habits at this stage. Dieting can really hinder that so I strongly suggest staying far, far away!
If your 16-year old is overweight or you are concerned about their weight, check in with a healthcare provider. It may be appropriate for some teenagers to set goals in order to slow the rate of weight gain or to lose some weight. If you need more help getting to a healthy weight, get help from a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist! See my newest ebook:
When Should a 16-Year Old Gain Weight?
Teenagers might want to gain weight because they have been told by a healthcare provider that they are underweight. Many teenagers also want to gain weight because they want to build muscle mass for sports performance or for looks.
Obsessing over gaining weight can also cause problems, just like the pursuit of losing weight. I always recommend working with a registered dietitian to help you gain weight in a healthy way! A dietitian can make sure your mindset is in the right place and can guide you long in the process to gaining weight, monitor your progress, and answer questions that come up along the way!
Tips for Reaching and Maintaining a Healthy Weight
So if you want to reach and maintain a healthy weight in a sustainable way, without making any drastic changes to your eating and exercise patterns, what do you do? As a dietitian, here are my top tips for teenagers that will support overall health and wellness!
- Start your day off with a balanced breakfast. It might take some time to get used to eating in the morning, especially if you have been skipping breakfast for a while, but ease your way into the habit! This sets you up for better appetite regulation, increased energy, regulated blood sugars, and more throughout the rest of your day!
- Eat regularly throughout the day. Your body likely needs food at least every 3-5 hours, but sometimes more frequently than that! If you are going long periods without eating, it is much harder to eat until you feel satisfied. You are actually much more likely to overeat when you don’t eat regularly throughout the day.
- Include carbohydrates, protein, and fat each time you eat. While carbohydrates mainly provide your body with energy, the protein and fat help to sustain that energy for longer and keep you feeling more full and satisfied.
- Include a proper amount of fiber in your diet! Not only does fiber help you feel more full when you are eating, but it also helps keep your digestive system regular and keeps your cholesterol levels in check. Fiber is found in whole grain foods as well as fruits and veggies!
- Eat a variety of foods from each of the food groups! All foods have a little bit different nutrient makeup and can provide your body with something unique. Plus, mixing up your eating routine and incorporating a wide variety of foods helps to keep meals interesting so that you don’t get bored with the foods you are consuming.
- Listen to your hunger and fullness cues and don’t ignore them! If you start feeling hungry, don’t put off eating. While you eat, be mindful of when you hit your “satisfied” point so that you can stop eating before getting overly full.
- Put away distractions while you are eating. It is much easier to listen to your body and truly enjoy your food when you are entirely present, without the distractions of screens, homework, or other things. It is not always possible to remove all distractions, but take advantage of the times where you are able to eat without a lot of other things going on.
- Include fun exercise in your daily routine. Moving your body should be enjoyable and should feel good to you. Tune in to what your body needs each day in terms of movement and honor that!
- Fuel for exercise! You should never go into a workout without eating something first to provide your body with energy. After your exercise, make sure you are getting a balanced meal or snack to replenish what you lost during your workout and give your body the tools it needs to rebuild and get stronger.
- Remember that other factors such as sleep and stress levels also impact weight. Make sure you are getting enough sleep each night and also try out different methods of stress management. That might mean including more exercise, doing meditation, talking to a therapist, giving yourself time to unwind, or a variety of other things! Find out what works for you.
There are a lot of factors that determine how much a 16-year old should weigh. It is important for teenagers to remember that your weight doesn’t define you and has nothing to do with your worth as a person. There can be a lot of pressure to look a certain way, but in reality that is much less important than the daily healthy habits that you are implementing.
You really can’t directly control your weight, but you can do things that directly affect your eating habits, exercise patterns, sleep, and stress levels. It is much more helpful to focus on things that you can directly control and let your weight settle into a place that is natural.
Don’t forget to reach out to a registered dietitian to help you get a better understanding of nutrition and how to best nourish your body so that you can be fully equipped to give your body everything it needs.
- What Should a 16-year Old Eat For Lunch?
- What Should a 16-Year Old Athlete Eat?
- What is Overweight for a 16-Year Old?
- What is a Normal Weight for a 16-Year Old?
- What is the Best Diet Plan for a 16 Year-Old? From a Dietitian
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. BMI for Children and Adolescents. Eatrightpro.org. Published August 26, 2015.
Fueling Teens is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We also participate in other affiliate programs which compensate us for referring traffic.