What is a Normal Weight for a 14-year old?

The fourteenth year of life can lead to some tough societal, academic, emotional and physical situations. In the midst of figuring out all these aspects of life, 14-year olds can also experience the beginning of puberty, a growth spurt or other body changes that can feel awkward or disconcerting. The natural development of the body at this time occurs at a different rate for each teenager. Seeing these differences in peer body shapes and sizes may encourage the question, “Am I a normal weight?” And what is a normal weight for a 14-year old?

A normal or healthy weight range for 14-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. For example, a 14-year old female at 62.5 inches tall (5 feet 2.5 inches) would be considered a healthy weight between 88 and 129 pounds (40 to 59 kg). A 14-year old male at 64.5 inches tall (5 feet 4.5 inches tall) would be considered a healthy weight between 95 to 133 pounds (43 to 60 kg).

However, the BMI measurement tool does not consider other factors such as body composition, lifestyle, genetics and other personal characteristics that can impact what a healthy BMI looks like for each individual. As such, the BMI measurement should be used only as a tool along with other lifestyle considerations to assess health. Instead, a teenager should focus on developing healthy and sustainable lifestyle habits.

Continue reading to learn more about what a healthy weight might look like for a 14-year old and the choices a teen can make to support current and future health.

What is Overweight for a 14-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 14-year old female at 62.5 inches tall (5 feet 2.5 inches) would be considered overweight above 130 pounds (59 kg). A 14-year old male at 64.5 inches tall (5 feet 4.5 inches) would be considered overweight above 134 pounds (61 kg). Any BMI falling above the 95th percentile will categorize as obese. Check the BMI calculator here for an estimate or check with your healthcare provider for growth chart classification.

As mentioned earlier, these categories mean little on their own, but should combine with other health measurements for a better understanding of a teenager’s health. A 14-year old with concerns about weight or nutrition should reach out to a healthcare professional before attempting any weight loss or dietary restrictions. Best health practices suggest avoiding weight loss at this age as it can negatively affect growth, development and 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. 

  1. Teens find their age at the bottom of the graph.
  2. They plot their BMI according to the number on the left side of the graph at the intersection of their age.
  3. Following the two nearest curves to the indicated percentile numbers will give teens an idea of what percentile range their BMI falls under.

BMI classifications for adolescents based on CDC growth charts:

UnderweightLess than 5th percentile
Healthy weight5-84th percentile
Overweight85-95th percentile
ObeseGreater than 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.

What is a Healthy Weight for a 14-Year Old?

The idea of a perfect target weight does not exist, especially during a time in the life with so much growth and development. Generally, a healthy weight will show up as a BMI measurement that falls between the 5th and 85th percentile of BMI for age. However, even this range does not always indicate the healthiest weight for an individual as body composition, genetics and other factors can affect the BMI assessment. 

According to the CDC growth charts, a 14-year old female at 62.5 inches tall (5 feet 2.5 inches) would be considered a healthy weight between 88 and 129 pounds (40 to 59 kg). A 14-year old male at 64.5 inches tall (5 feet 4.5 inches tall) would be considered a healthy weight between 95 to 133 pounds (43 to 60 kg). However, at different heights and ages a teenager would be classified in a different weight category. Check with your healthcare provider for any concerns about weight classification.

A healthcare professional can better help teenagers assess their weights by looking at trends and a variety of other health indicators. Each teenager will follow their own unique BMI for age curve and should focus on developing lifelong healthy behaviors, not on achieving a certain number on the scale.

Furthermore, 14-year olds should avoid any weight loss attempts without guidance from a healthcare professional. Restriction of the diet or other extreme practices to lose weight can cause lasting harm to a growing teenager.

Should a 14-Year Old Go On a Diet?

“Going on a diet” usually signifies cutting out a food group, severely restricting calories, obsessing over food rules and other extreme dietary practices. These types of choices will negatively affect growth and well-being of a 14-year old. Therefore, a 14-year old should avoid going on a diet unless recommended and then guided by a healthcare professional such as a doctor or registered dietitian.

Diets may lead to short term weight loss, but often that weight comes back and then some. Dieting can also result in poor growth, lack of proper development, reduced cognitive ability, nutrient deficiencies and decreased bone, organ and immune health.

The short-term weight loss comes through body water and muscle loss. The body recognizes the possible harm and goes into survival mode, conserving energy for vital functions. These adaptations can lower the metabolism and decrease desire to engage in physical activity, resulting in only short-term weight loss.

A 14-year old should look to adopt healthy dietary habits that he or she can maintain for life. Inclusion of nutrient dense foods should be prioritized over exclusion of any food or food group.

Any 14-year old who feels like they may display signs of disordered eating should reach out for help. These signs include:

  • 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
  • Increases irritability 
  • Poor cold tolerance
  • Dry or brittle 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. National Eating Disorders: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

Tips For a Healthy Weight and Lifestyle at 14

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.

Mockup Teen Weight Loss eBook

The book is available in the Downloads section of my website here – Downloadable Content.

Making lifestyle changes to improve health at a young age will provide lifelong positive effects. As a 14-year old, these changes should focus on sustainability and balance. Extreme measures that can only last a short time rarely lead to any lasting healthy outcomes.

1. A Healthy Meal Pattern Without Restrictions

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 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.

2. Drinking Enough Fluids

Drink fluids throughout the day. The best fluids for hydration contain no added sugars like water, milk, unsweetened plant milks and 100% fruit juice. Drinking sugar sweetened beverages can increase likelihood of calorie overconsumption and energy crashes.

Proper hydration will help a teenager appropriately identify hunger and fullness cues, increase alertness and energy and overall feel well. The best indicator of hydration comes from urine color as thirst may already indicate dehydration. Urine color should appear a pale yellow.

3. Daily Movement

Finding ways to increase daily physical activity provides many 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. 

Daily movement does not need to consist of going to the gym or running. Other activities include swimming, dancing, rollerblading, walking the dog, hiking and even some chores. With all the variety of activities, 14-year olds should try out different activities to find out what works best for them. Teens who find physical activity enjoyable are more likely to continue meeting the daily recommendations. 

4. Consistent and Quality Sleep

Health experts recommend 8-10 hours of quality sleep each night for 14-year olds. Achieving this target consistently improves the immune system, brain health, physical health and mental health. Furthermore, lack of sleep can contribute to unwanted weight gain through a decrease in energy and increased cravings for lower nutrient dense foods. 

Many factors determine quality of sleep, but some tips include consistent wake and sleep times, avoiding caffeine near bed time, limiting heavy meals in the evening, finding a good routine, keeping the room cool and limiting screen time before bed.

5. Managing Stress

Many stressors impact the life of a 14-year old with academics, extracurricular activities, social and family life. While short episodes of stress are normal, 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.

6. 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.

7. Self-Compassion and Body Acceptance

The teen years can be tough, and mistakes will happen. These years should be seen as an opportunity to try new things and figure out what works best for each individual. Taking a break from an exercise schedule, eating cake at a birthday party or staying up later for a fun night with friends will not derail health plans. No one choice has the power to make a person healthy or unhealthy. Improved health comes though consistently living an overall balanced life, not perfection.

Teenagers should remember that body diversity is real and natural. They should live with respect towards their bodies. There is no one perfect size and teens should focus more on what their bodies can do over the way their bodies look.

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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