What is a Normal Weight for a 19-year old?

The dramatic increase in independence for a 19-year old brings many uncertainties. One big area of uncertainty involves making dietary and other lifestyle choices without as much adult guidance. Impacting these decisions is the fact that the rapid growth and development experienced through the teen years also slows down during this time. As 19-year olds face these adjustments regarding growth and nutrition, they will often consider the question, what is a normal weight for a 19-year old?

A 19-year old female who is 5 foot 4 inches tall (64 inches) is considered a healthy weight between 104 and 151 pounds. A healthy weight for a 19-year old male who is 5 foot 9.5 inches tall (69.5 inches) is between 129 and 180 pounds. Other heights have different ranges. A healthy weight range for 19-year olds is generally based on maintaining a body mass index (BMI) between the 5th and 85th percentile on the Center of Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) growth chart.

The BMI measurement gives guidance on a healthy weight for a certain age, but should only play a small role in the assessment of health.  This tool does not consider certain characteristics such as body composition, genetics, environment and lifestyle choices. Rather than focusing on a specific weight or BMI target, 19-year olds should work on developing healthy habits they can maintain throughout life to promote lasting health.

Continue to read for more information about a healthy weight of a 19-year old plus guidance on healthy and sustainable lifestyle habits for increased health and well-being.

What is Considered Overweight for a 19-year old?

According to the CDC growth charts, a BMI above the 85th and below the 95th percentile on the BMI chart is considered overweight. For example, a 19-year old female at 5 feet 4 inches tall (64 inches) would be considered overweight at 152 pounds and above. A 19-year old male at 5 feet 9.5 inches tall (69.5 inches) would be considered overweight at 181 pounds and above. Different heights have different ranges. Any BMI falling above the 95th percentile will categorize as obese.

You can estimate BMI using this online calculator.

A 19-year old should never focus on BMI as the sole measurement of health. Many factors, including body composition or genetics, can skew assessment of BMI. Those 19-year olds with concerns should reach out to a healthcare professional. These professionals can help determine accurate health needs by using a variety of measurements and tools. They can also provide science-based health advice that will lead to lasting well-being.

Interpreting BMI for Age Charts

The BMI value comes from dividing an individual’s weight in kilograms by the square of the height in meters. Many online calculators make it easy to find a BMI measurement without the need to do any math. For ages 2-20, this BMI measurement can be plotted on a growth chart.

A gender appropriate growth chart will indicate the percentile that a teen’s BMI falls in. The right side of the graph contains the percentile numbers, the left side has the BMI measurements and the bottom will show age.

  1. Teens find their age at the bottom of the graph.
  1. They plot their BMI according to the number on the left side of the graph at the intersection of their age.
  1. Following the two nearest curves to the indicated percentile numbers will give teens an idea of what percentile range their BMI falls under.
Underweight Less than 5th percentile
Healthy weight5-84th percentile
Overweight85-95th percentile
Obese>95th percentile
  1. A healthcare professional will look at trends for a more complete assessment. Teenagers will follow their own unique curves and should not base health assumptions off of only one data point.
  1. Some 19-year olds may feel the need to make changes to their diet or exercise habits in order to maintain a healthy weight. They should seek out reputable and science-based sources of information and only take personalized advice from licensed professionals.

What is a Healthy Weight for a 19-Year Old?

A healthy weight for a 19-year old will vary depending on gender, height, body composition and a many other factors. Generally, a healthy weight will fall between the 5th and 85th percentile on the BMI for age growth charts.

For example, a healthy weight for a 19-year old female who is 5 foot 4 inches tall (64 inches) is between 104 and 151 pounds. A healthy weight for a 19-year old male who is 5 foot 9.5 inches tall (69.5 inches) is between 129 and 180 pounds. Many factors are taken into account. Don’t stress too much about a point on a growth chart, focus on patterns over time and always check in with a healthcare provider if you are concerned about weight. Overall health is not determined just by a chart.

A 19-year old will want to focus more on whether their behaviors lead to lasting health, not a number on the scale. A teenager who consumes few fruits and vegetables, rarely participates in physical activity but has a healthy weight often experiences worse health outcomes than a teenager with a higher weight who eats a balanced diet and exercises daily.

Due to the variability in body shapes and sizes, a teenager should strive for body acceptance. This term means accepting and respecting one’s body despite imperfections or perceived flaws. 

What is Underweight for a 19-Year Old?

Based on the CDC growth charts, underweight for a 19-year old is anything less than the 5th percentile on the BMI for age growth charts.

A 19-year old male that is 5 feet 9.5 inches tall (69.5 inches) would be considered underweight at 128 pounds and lower. A 19-year old female that is 5 feet 4 inches tall would be considered underweight at 103 pounds and lower.

Should a 19-Year Old Go on a Diet?

A 19-year old should practice extreme caution regarding dieting. Fad diets involve restriction of calories, nutrients and food groups, along with rigid rules that harm health and well-being. Frequent dieting may increase the risk of disordered eating patterns and negatively affect well-being.

Fad diets also rarely result in lasting weight loss. In fact, most studies show weight regain or even additional weight within 1-5 years. Rapid weight loss from these diets leads to body water and muscle loss along with a decrease in the desire to participate in physical activity. These factors combined with a slowed metabolism in response to restriction, make it hard to maintain a healthy weight.

Individuals looking to make dietary changes should look for information from reputable and science-based sources. Healthy dietary patterns focus on including more nutrient dense foods over excluding foods. They also involve choices and behaviors that a teenager can maintain for life and that create feelings of satisfaction and body acceptance.

A 19-year old should address any concerns about possible disordered eating by reaching out to a professional. The following list describes some signs that may indicate disordered eating. 

  • Rigid food rules
  • Significant weight changes up or down
  • Preoccupation with food
  • Food rituals
  • Skipping meals
  • Lack of interest in life outside of food
  • Secrecy involving food
  • Increased irritability 
  • Poor cold tolerance
  • Dry skin, hair, nails
  • Fatigue 
  • Insomnia
  • Menstrual irregularities

Check out this website for more information about disordered eating, along with a screening tool and a helpline.


Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Weight and Lifestyle for 19-Year Olds

Most changes made in order to increase health should encourage balance and sustainability. Extreme choices often lead to burnout and feelings of hopelessness due to an all or nothing mentality. A sustainable habit means a 19-year old can continue that habit for many years to come, which promotes long lasting wellness.

  1. A balanced, varied and adequate diet

A healthy meal pattern includes all food groups and many varieties of food. In addition to variety and balance, the body does best when it receives adequate nutrition or enough calories to meet daily energy demands.

Skipping out on certain food groups or types of foods can lead to nutrient deficiencies that cause poor health. Restriction of any sort can also increase the likelihood of overeating or binging at a later time.

The My Plate method (https://www.myplate.gov)  provides a good model for what a healthy meal can look like with a mix of protein, grains, fruits and vegetables. Swapping in more plant-based foods can also increase the nutrient quality of diets. Finally, while still enjoyed on occasion, foods high in sugar, saturated fat and sodium should be limited in favor of higher nutrient dense foods.

  1. Hydration

Often overlooked, adequate hydration makes a significant impact on feeling healthy and energized. Inadequate intake of fluids can increase feelings of hunger, fatigue, brain fog and irritability.

The best fluids for hydration will not contain added sugars. These fluids include water, milk, unsweetened plant-based milks and 100% fruit juice. Sweetened beverages often provide little nutrition but make it easy to over consume calories.

  1. Daily movement

Finding ways to increase daily physical activity provides countless health benefits.  Daily movement can help with maintaining a healthy weight, reduce risk of disease, improve brain health, strengthen bone and muscle and increase feelings of well-being. 

A 19-year old will want to find preferred ways to move. If running does not bring joy, try walking, swimming, biking or hiking. The best form of activity is the one that an individual will want to continue. 

However, for weight purposes, a mix of cardio and weight strengthening works best. Increasing muscle mass can boost a person’s metabolism, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight.

  1. Consistent and quality sleep

The heightened responsibility and stress 19-year olds face may cause sleep to suffer. Inadequate sleep affects health in a significant way with increased inflammation, more cravings for high carbohydrate and low nutrient foods, decreased insulin sensitivity, mental fog and less of a desire to move during the day.

Experts recommend 19-year olds sleep at least seven hours each night. Consistency with sleep and wake times translate to increased sleep benefits. Many factors determine quality of sleep, but some tips include no caffeine or alcohol close to bedtime, avoid heavy meals in the evening, find a good routine, keep the room cool and limit screen time before bed.

  1. Managing stress

A 19-year cannot avoid stress but managing stress will provide long term health benefits. Chronic stress increases inflammation and affects behaviors in a way that make it hard to stay healthy. 

Techniques to manage stress include prioritizing tasks, making time for hobbies, meditation, daily movement, adequate sleep and talking to someone.

  1. Mental and emotional health

Mental and emotional health can directly impact physical health. For example, anxiety and depression may cause poor eating choices and a more sedentary lifestyle. Make mental and emotional health a priority and reach out to a healthcare professional for advice.

  1. Self-compassion and body acceptance

Realize that a perfect diet, exercise regime or weight does not exist. Taking the opportunity to enjoy a treat with friends or taking a break from exercise does not mean you are a failure. A 19-year old should also not feel less valued because of a number seen on a scale.

Body acceptance means accepting and respecting the body despite perceived imperfections or flaws. Focus on all the incredible things your body can do and how to best take care of it.

Katherine Harmer, RDN

I'm a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a love for coaching others to success in their health goals, especially teenage athletes. Tennis was my sport of choice in high school. Now I'm a little bit older, a little bit smarter, and a little bit worse at tennis.

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