Growth Charts for Determining Normal Teen Weight

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With obesity rates in teens rising, you may wonder how your teen's weight compares to normal weight ranges. The growth charts serve as a tool to provide an idea of average weights for teen boys and girls, but remember that these charts may not fit your child's exact needs. If you're concerned about your teen's weight, consult his doctor to discuss his individual growth chart and growth pattern.

About Growth Charts for Teens

Powered by good nutrition, sleep and regular exercise, normal growth is one indicator of good health in teens. Pediatricians in the U.S. have used growth charts to assess growth in infants, children and teens since 1977, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Weight-for-age and body mass index are two growth charts used to assess teen weight.

While these charts indicate what's considered a normal weight for a teen based on his age, genetics play a major role in determining your teen's growth pattern. You may get a better indication of health by looking at the trend in his growth instead of a spot on a chart that indicates your teen's weight.

Normal Weight for Age Charts

The weight-for-age growth chart is used to determine how your teen's weight compares to other teens her age using a percentile rank. A weight between the 5th and 95th percentile is considered within the healthy or "normal" range. You will find separate growth charts for boys and girls. A 13-year-old, whether boy or girl, who weighs 100 pounds falls at about the 50th percentile for age, the middle of the normal range of weights. A healthy weight range for a 13-year-old ranges from 75 to 147 pounds. For a 16-year-old boy, a normal weight-for-age is 103 to 185 pounds, and a girl the same age can weigh from 95 to 172 pounds.

BMI Charts for Assessing Weight

When it comes to weight and health, the BMI chart may be a better tool. The BMI is a mathematical equation used to estimate body fatness based on height and weight. The BMI number is then plotted on a percentile chart that's based on age and gender. A normal weight falls between the 5th and 85th percentile.

To estimate your teen's BMI: [weight in pounds / (height in inches x height in inches)] x 703.

So, for example, a 16-year old boy who weighs 129 pounds at 5 feet, 9 inches tall has a BMI equal to 19.0. That number is then plotted on a gender-specific BMI-for-age growth chart and indicates that his BMI falls at the 25th percentile, and his weight is considered normal.

A 5-foot tall, 13-year-old girl who weighs 145 pounds has a BMI equal to 28.3, which falls at greater than the 95th percentile and is considered obese. A 115-pound 13-year-old girl at the same height has a BMI equal to 22.5, which falls at the 85th percentile and is considered normal weight.

Weight and Teens

Instead of focusing on your teen's weight, encourage healthy habits that promote a normal weight. Make exercise a regular part of your teen's routine. Turn off the TV and go for a walk or a bike ride together. Take a dance or karate class.

Diet is also important for teenagers. Keep your kitchen stocked with nutritious foods: fruits, vegetables, nonfat yogurt, low-fat cheese, whole grains cereals and crackers, lean proteins such as turkey and tuna, nuts and seeds. Make efforts to eat dinner as a family, to connect with your teen and enjoy a healthy meal together.