The rate of overweight and obese are growing, especially for teenagers. Although weight is not always the best indicator of health, there are significant correlations between being overweight and having other negative health complications.
“Overweight” for a teenager is classified as being above the 85th percentile on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) growth chart. For a 14-year old male who is 5 foot 5 inches, overweight may be classified as above 135 pounds or 61.4 kilograms. For a 14-year old female who is 5 foot 3 inches, overweight may be classified as above 132 pounds or 60 kilograms. However, doctors and dietitians should also look at body composition as well as eating and exercise habits to assess overall health, not just the number on the scale.
Read on for more information on determining if your teen is at a healthy weight and tips on encouraging good eating and exercise habits for your child.
What is a Healthy Weight for a 14-Year Old?
Using a growth chart, a 14-year old male who is 5 foot 5 inches, healthy weight may be classified as 96 to 135 pounds. For a 14-year old female who is 5 foot 3 inches, healthy weight may be classified as 88 to 132 pounds. However, there is much more involved in assessing a healthy body than just the number on the scale.
The terms overweight and obese for are used to classify those who are above the normal weight range for their height and age.
These classifications are based on Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI only takes body weight and height into account, not body composition or frame size. Those BMI calculations are then shown on growth charts to take into account age and sex.
Your child’s pediatrician has probably been tracking your teenager’s growth percentiles since they were very young. The chart below from the CDC shows how to interpret these percentile ranges. It is important to look at weight trends over time and to gather information aside from weight when assessing your teen’s health.
Don’t stress too much about your child’s weight classification, it isn’t a perfect way to measure health. Athletes in particular often fall into the overweight or obese categories, but this does not necessarily mean that they are unhealthy. Since body composition is not taken into account, those with a high amount of muscle might technically be classified as overweight or obese because muscle weighs more than fat.
BMI can be used as a screening tool, but should never be the end-all-be-all of determining health. Teens should aim to stay at a weight at which they feel their best and are able to meet all of their calorie and nutrient needs.
Why is Maintaining a Healthy Weight Important for Teens?
A higher weight is often correlated with a higher amount of body fat and poor health outcomes. The CDC has linked high body fat levels with a higher risk for:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Breathing issues
- Joint issues
- Fatty Liver Disease
Still, being at a higher weight does not ensure that your teen will develop one of the above conditions. Additionally, drastic methods of decreasing your teens weight may actually do more harm than good.
Weight loss is typically not suggested for teenagers. Your teen is still in their years of growth and development and calorie restriction in the name of weight loss could actually be very harmful. Instead of working towards weight loss, the goal should be to slow the rate of weight gain.
On the other hand, being in a “healthy” weight range does not mean your teen is truly living a healthy lifestyle. Even those in a “healthy” weight range can develop other health complications, such as the ones listed above.
See also: Is it Easy to Lose Weight as a Teenager?
When to be Concerned About a 14-Year Old’s Weight
If you are concerned about your teen’s weight, find a dietitian in your area. They can analyze lifestyle factors, environmental factors, and body composition to determine your teen’s health status. Find a dietitian that focuses more on overall health than on just weight alone.
Your teen may have some of their own concerns about weight. Teenagers often feel societal pressure to get their body to look a certain way. Overweight and obese teens may experience:
- Bullying and weight discrimination
- Poor body image and low self-esteem
It is important to keep a close eye out for any signs of mental, emotional, and social distress and get your teen proper help and support. Meeting with a psychologist, in combination with meeting with a dietitian could be helpful.
In an attempt to quickly change their body, teens could resort to unhealthy and unsafe methods of weight loss. If you notice any of the following in your teen, reach out for extra help.
- Calorie restriction
- Negative body comments
- Instances of binging or purging
- Skipping meals
- Consistently eating until almost sick
- Sneaking or hiding food
- Rapid changes in weight
- 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?
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.
Risk Factors for Overweight and Obesity for Teens
Some teens are at a higher risk for obesity than others. Some are at a higher risk of obesity due to their genetic makeup. The genetic component of obesity is out of their control, but still good to be aware of. Other areas, age groups, socioeconomic status, society and cultural customs, health problems, inactivity, etc. also affects risk of obesity in teens. Luckily, developing healthy eating habits is something all teens can work on to improve their health, no matter where they live or genetic background.
Poor eating and exercise habits are more controllable risk factors for overweight and obesity. These types of behaviors may put your teen at a higher risk of obesity:
- Frequent consumption of refined sugars, especially sugar-sweetened beverages (such as soda)
- Frequent consumption of highly processed food and fast food
- Physical inactivity
It is important to note that weight is impacted by many, many factors. Some others important to note are:
- Access to healthy food: this could be limited depending on location
- Social class and food budget: healthier food is often more expensive
- Stress, anxiety, depression: the body tends to store fat differently when stress hormones are elevated
- Medications: Some medications list weight gain as a possible side effect. Some depression medications are notorious for causing weight gain.
- Emotional eating: Emotions such as boredom, sadness, stress, and others often lead teenagers to crave sugary, or high-fat foods. These foods do give a boost of serotonin (the feel-good hormone) when eaten, but this can have a negative effect on the body when food becomes their only coping mechanism
- Social atmosphere: Many teenagers spend a lot of time out of the house, with friends. The social setting and food choices of friends definitely can impact what your teen eats.
Eating and Exercise Recommendations for a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is all about giving the body what it needs, when it needs it. Consistently eating more than the body needs will lead to weight gain. Below is a chart from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showing estimated calorie needs for teenagers.
However, calorie needs fluctuate day-to-day, which is why simply tracking calories is not often recommended. Instead, teenagers should be taught to listen to their body and honor their hunger and fullness cues. They should learn to trust their body to let them know what it needs. Developing that connection with their body is the best way to keep weight and health in check.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans give food group recommendations based on calorie needs. Following these daily recommendations will help teens get the nutrients they need and will help maintain a healthy weight. For example, a teenager that needs 2,000 calories per day should be getting:
- 2.5 servings of vegetables per day
- 2 servings of fruit per day
- 3 cups of dairy per day
- 5.5 oz of protein per day
- 6 oz of grains per day
See also: How Many Calories Does My Teen Need?
Teenagers getting below the recommended amount of physical activity are also at a higher risk of being overweight or obese. Teens should be getting at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day. This should include a combination of:
- Aerobic activity that will get their heart rate up. This might be walking, running, dancing, etc.
- Muscle and bone-strengthening activities like jumping rope and playing sports
Tips for Helping Your Teen Maintain a Healthy Weight
Whether your child is classified as a healthy weight, overweight, or obese, the focus should always be establishing healthy patterns. Teenagers should never be put on a “diet.” This often leads to poor mental health, eating disorders, and decreased quality of life.
As a parent, it is not your job to force your teenager to eat healthy and exercise. They must ultimately make their own choices. Still, there are things you can do to support your teen in maintaining a healthy weight.
- Model good eating behavior. Eat a variety of foods and talk about how they provide nutrients and energy for your body.
- Do not talk about foods as “good” or “bad.” This often leads teens to think that they are then “good” or “bad” for eating certain foods.
- Avoid commenting on your teen’s weight, even if it is meant as a compliment. Healthy eating patterns are much more important than how the body physically looks.
- Avoid making negative comments about your own body. Teenagers will pick up on the self-deprecation and internalize these comments, even if not directed at them.
- Have a variety of healthy snack options available. Keep fruits and vegetables cut up in the fridge. Keep your pantry stocked with other easy-to-grab healthy foods. Teens are much more likely to choose healthy options when they are convenient.
- Gather for family meals as much as possible. Create positive associations with eating well-balanced meals. Leave stressful or upsetting conversations for another time.
- Get rid of distractions during eating times. Turn off the TV and put phones away to allow your teenagers to connect with their body during mealtimes.
- Teach good mindful eating techniques. Instead of restricting what or how much a teenager can eat, invite them to tune into their body and listen for what it needs.
- Avoid singling out your teenager for their weight or eating habits. Making healthier choices should be a family endeavor that everyone can participate in.
- Watch for signs of emotional distress. Help your child learn to process their emotions in a healthy way. Seek help from mental health professionals to make sure your teen has all the tools they need to cope with the things they are dealing with.
- Encourage fun forms of physical activity. Help your child find a sport or other hobby that they enjoy doing to help them get active.
The Bottom Line
While it may be beneficial to keep an eye on weight trends over time, focusing on establishing healthy eating patterns and an active lifestyle is the most important thing you can do to help your teen maintain a healthy weight.
Many health habits are observed and learned through example. Model good habits and help your teen learn to develop a positive relationship with food and their body. Take the focus away from the number on the scale and instead, help your teen recognize what foods make them feel their best.
What Weight Should a 14-Year Old Be? A 5 foot 5 inch 14-year old boy may be classified as healthy weight between 96 pounds and 135 pounds (43.6 to 61.4 kg). A 5 foot 3 inch 14-year old girl may be classified as healthy weight between 89 and 131 pounds (40.5 kg to 59.5 kg). The number on the scale isn’t the important part, overall health habits and other clinical markers determine health. See a medical professional if you are worried about your child’s weight.
Is 67kg Overweight for a 14-Year Old? 67 kg (147 pounds) may be considered overweight for a 5 foot 5 inch 14-year old boy or a 5 foot 3 inch 14-year old girl. Weight classification depends on height and gender. Use the CDC BMI Calculator for Children and Teens to get an estimate: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/bmi/calculator.html
What is Underweight for a 14-Year Old Female? A 5 foot 3 inch 14-year old female may be considered underweight at under 89 pounds. See a healthcare professional if you are concerned about your child’s weight.
What Is Overweight for a 14-Year Old? A 5 foot 5 inch 14-year old male may be classified as overweight above 135 pounds. A 5 foot 3 inch 14-year old female may be classified as overweight above 132 pounds. Weight classifications are not perfect, it’s most important to get the overall picture than to just get a glance of a health classification on a growth chart. See a healthcare professional to determine your child’s overall health.
- Is Whey Protein Safe for Teenage Athletes? Here’s What Dietitians Recommend
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- How Much Fat Does a 14-Year Old Need Per Day?
- How Much Sugar Should a 14 Year-Old Have Per Day? Ask a Dietitian
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. BMI for Children and Adolescents. Eatrightpro.org. Published August 26, 2015.
CDC. Childhood Obesity Causes and Consequences. Cdc.gov. Reviewed March 19, 2021.
Ellis E. How Many Calories Does My Teen Need? Eatright.org. Published October 4, 2019.
United States Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. Dietaryguidelines.gov. Published December 29, 2020.
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