At 15-years old, your body is still changing, developing, and growing. It may be a confusing time as you get used to the changes that your body is going through. In a society so focused on weight, it is very normal to wonder if you are in a normal, healthy weight range as your weight changes.
A healthy weight for a 15-Year old is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) between the 5th and 85th percentiles on the Center of Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) growth charts. A healthy weight classification based on the growth charts is equal to a 5 foot 3 inch 15-year old female weighing between 92 and 135 pounds or a 5 foot 7 inch 15-year old male weighing between 105 and 149 pounds. However, looking at weight alone is not advised. There are many more factors at play in determining if you are healthy than just the number on the scale.
Read on for more details from a registered dietitian nutritionist about what is a healthy weight for a 15-year old and what 15-year old should eat and do to maintain a healthy weight.
What is Overweight for a 15-Year Old?
“Overweight” for a 15-year old is defined as being above the 85th percentile on the CDC growth charts (see below). A 15-year old would be classified as “obese” if they are above the 95th percentile.
We use BMI and growth charts to analyze weights based on height, age, and sex. The “ideal” or “healthy” weight is different for every person depending on multiple factors. BMI and growth charts can be used as a screening tool to get some baseline information, but more health data must be collected to determine if someone is healthy or not.
Using and Interpreting Growth Charts for Teens
If your doctor has told you that you are in a certain percentile for weight, have you ever wondered what that means? You might never have to calculate BMI or plot it on a growth chart, but it may be helpful to understand where those numbers come from and what they mean when you are speaking with your healthcare provider.
Growth charts are used for children and teenagers because what is considered a healthy weight range is constantly shifting as they grow and develop.
Below are the steps to use and interpret a growth chart for a 15-year old.
- Calculate BMI. This can be done by hand, but the CDC has created an online calculator that makes it easy to figure out your BMI based on age, weight, height, sex.
- There are two different growth charts, one for girls and one for boys. You will want to make sure you pick the right one. Both growth charts are shown below.
- Find your age at the bottom of the graph. Then trace the grid lines up until you find the line corresponding with the BMI on the sides of the graph. Plot a point at that spot.
- You will see the percentiles to the right of the growth chart. The growth charts below are color-coded to make it easier to read. The red area is classified as obese, yellow is classified as overweight, green is normal weight, and blue is underweight.
- It is important for your healthcare team to look at percentile trends as you grow. If you are outside of the green zone, there is no need to panic, but your doctor or dietitian should do more analysis to make sure everything is on track.
For Girls. Image Courtesy of Penn State PRO Wellness
For Boys. Image Courtesy of Penn State PRO Wellness.
What is a Healthy Weight for a 15-Year Old?
By definition, a healthy weight for a 15-year old is defined as having a BMI between the 5th and 85th percentile. However, with so many factors at play, there is not a specific weight for all 15-year olds to aim for.
There’s more to health than just weight. What is healthy for one person may not be healthy for another person. In fact, teens that fall in a “healthy” weight range according to BMI and growth charts, might still not be considered healthy when looking at eating and exercise habits.
It is important for 15-year olds to understand that weight and body shape are not the main indicator of health.
This also speaks to the importance of recognizing and appreciating body diversity. If you find yourself comparing your body shape and weight to those around you, it might be time to take a step back and rethink how you view your health!
Example in using the growth charts: A 5 foot 3 inch 15-year old female weighing between 92 and 135 pounds or a 5 foot 7 inch 15-year old male weighing between 105 and 149 pounds is classified as healthy weight. Anything below that may be classified as underweight and anything above that may be classified as overweight or obesity.
What Factors Can Impact a 15-Year Old’s Weight?
Although many people think eating and exercise are the most important factors in maintaining a healthy weight, there are many other things that play a role.
Other factors that affect weight besides eating and exercise:
- Anxiety and depression
- Medical conditions
Mental health is one of the more notable factors impacting weight. Anxiety, depression, and stress can not only impact appetite and lead to emotional eating, but also can change how the body stores fat.
Sleep, or lack of sleep, is another factor that can impact weight. Sleep is an important regulator of hormones and is an essential daily reset for the body. Most teenagers need between 8-10 hours of sleep every night. Find the amount of sleep that feels the best for your body and create a schedule you can stick to.
There is also a huge genetic component to weight. Some medical conditions or medicines may also affect weight.
Should a 15-Year Old Go On a Diet?
Teenagers should not be put on any type of restrictive diet and should definitely not cut out any food groups. 15-year olds are in the middle of a huge period of growth and development. Decreasing total caloric intake and cutting out food groups can lead to missing out on key nutrients essential for this time of growth.
The society that we live in often correlates being healthy with “dieting,” but the truth is, dieting often causes more harm than good. Restricting certain foods or food groups often leads to bingeing on them later. Additionally, many eating disorders stem from the arbitrary rules created by diets.
If you are in the overweight or obese category, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider. They can help determine your overall health status. Being at a higher weight does not necessarily mean you are unhealthy.
If you are interested in weight loss as a teenager, it’s important to learn what advice is real and legitimate, and what just comes from fad diets and harmful sources. I’ve written an e-Book guide and month-long meal plan to help teens establish habits that will help them get to a healthy weight and maintain it. It will help teens develop attitudes and behaviors that will lead to a positive relationship with food and nutrition throughout their lives.
The book is available in the Downloads section of my website here – Downloadable Content.
When Should a 15-Year Old Lose Weight?
The main goal should be to slow the rate of weight gain, rather than to lose weight. There may be certain exceptions, but if weight loss is recommended, it should always be under the direct supervision of a doctor and dietitian.
The teen years can be a frustrating time. Your body is changing and your weight might be fluctuating. You may be tempted to go on a diet to change your weight with the hope that it will make you feel better about your body.
Instead of trying to change your body, focus on healthy eating and exercise habits that make your body feel good. Your body weight will settle in a healthy weight range when you have good health habits and listen to your body. Positive health changes come out of a place of love and respect for your body, not from hating your body.
If body love currently feels like too much of a challenge, at least practice body respect. Here are a few mantras or thoughts to keep in mind when struggling with body image.
- My body is strong and resilient.
- My body keeps me alive.
- My body helps me do all the things I love.
- My body takes care of me even when I don’t always give it what it needs.
Healthy Eating Habits for a 15-Year Old
The teenager years are the best time to develop healthy eating habits. Here are some to implement for a healthy body.
- Get a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat at every meal and snack. Carbohydrates provide energy, while protein and fat help to sustain that energy. Protein and fat also help you to feel more full and satisfied between meals.
- Do not go long periods of time without eating. The body needs fuel regularly throughout the day. Waiting until you are absolutely starving also will lead to overeating. It is hard to be mindful when you wait too long to eat. This typically means eating every 3-4 hours during the day.
- Try to include a fruit or vegetable at every eating occasion. These food groups contain so many vitamins and minerals that help the body recover, rebuild, grow, and develop.
- Sit down to eat your meals. Rather than snacking on things as you walk around the kitchen, actually make an effort to sit and eat a full meal.
- Remove distractions when you eat. Try to take at least one meal per day where you can just focus on what you are eating. Focus on how the food tastes, smells, looks, and the texture in your mouth. Put down your phone and all other screens.
- Take moments to stop and evaluate your hunger and fullness levels while you eat. Try to find that point at which you feel satisfied without getting overly full.
Healthy Exercise Habits for a 15-Year Old
- Aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Find fun activities to do that get you moving.
- Aim to include movement that gets your heart rate up as well as movement that strengthens your muscles and bones. Many activities and sports are great for both!
- Teenagers are often sitting most of their day- in class, doing homework, etc. Make sure and take breaks to get up and move around frequently.
While it may be tempting to try and drop weight or change your body, make sure you are always taking care of your body and giving it the energy and nutrients that it needs. Work with a dietitian to make sure you are meeting all your nutritional needs.
With a combination of body respect and healthy habits, teenagers can reach a weight that is appropriate for their body and that makes them feel their best.
What is the Average Weight for a 15 Year Old Female? The average weight for a 15 year old female who is 5′ 3” (160 cm) is around 115 pounds (52.3 kg). Don’t worry if your teen weighs more or less at this height. The number on the scale is not what is most important, rather healthy habits and other clinical markers determine overall health. A 5′ 3” female could weigh up to 135 pounds before being classified as overweight on the CDC growth charts.
How Do I Know if I Am Overweight for My Age? Based on your BMI and growth chart status, you can find out your weight classification. Teenagers are classified as overweight when their BMI falls between the 85th-95th percentiles on growth charts, and classified as obese above the 95th percentile. Keep in mind that BMI doesn’t determine overall health. BMI classifications aren’t perfect. Speak with a doctor and dietitian if your weight is classified as overweight or obese to determine causes.
Is it OK to be Underweight? There are many reasons why a teenager may be underweight. It isn’t usually healthy to be underweight due to a poor diet because it can lead to nutritional deficiencies which can affect body function and overall health. If you are underweight you could get sick often, have digestion issues, experience poor wound healing, lack energy, experience poor growth, and more.
What is Considered Underweight for a 15 Year Old Female? Adolescents use the CDC growth charts to classify BMI and weight status. Underweight is classified as anyone with a BMI less than the 5th percentile for 15 year old females. A 5 foot 3 inch 15 year old female would be classified as underweight at 85 pounds or less. Classification is based on height, age, weight, and gender. If you child is underweight, she should be seen by a healthcare provider for assessment to determine causes and treatments.
What Weight is Considered Skinny? Anything less than 5th percentile for BMI for children and teens is considered too skinny. Weight classifications between the 5th and 85th percentiles are classified as healthy. For teenagers, being too skinny may seem nice, but can have many health consequences, including longterm problems.
- What is the Best Diet Plan for a 15 Year-Old? Tips from a Dietitian
- Is it Easy to Lose Weight as a Teenager?
- Should I Tell My Teen They Need to Lose Weight? Tips from a Dietitian
- How Can I Tell if my Teen is Overweight? Advice from a Dietitian
- What Causes Weight Gain in Teenage Girls?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About Child and Teen BMI. Cdc.gov. Published March 17, 2021.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sleep in Middle and High School Students. Cdc.gov. Published September 10, 2020.
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