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June 21, 2022

Teenage is the perfect age to teach your child healthy habits as it has been known to safeguard them from developing serious health problems.

With teens turning to a sedentary lifestyle and spending more and more time indoors playing games, the average body fat percentage charts have shown a positive trend in recent years. 

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Overweight children tend to face issues with fitness and mobility; obese children are also more likely to be bullied by their peers. That said, a child’s gender also plays a significant role in determining their body mass index. 

Puberty brings a different set of body changes in both males and females which is reflected in terms of different fat percentages. In order to get a better idea of your teen’s health, you can check their BMI (body mass index). 

Let us know more about BMI and see how it helps keep your child’s weight in check. 

All about teens body mass index (BMI) 

This is an indicator of the fat concentration in the body of your teen. BMI or body mass index has been in use for decades by medical professionals and fitness experts. 

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Body Mass Index Abstract

Its calculation is based on weight and height, but molecular parameters like bone density, fat level, etc. Thus, in some cases, two kids can have the same BMI but yet totally different bodies. 

You can calculate it in two ways. First, insert the value of your kid’s BMI in the CDC standard chart and draw a comparison with other kids of the same age and height, or calculate it using an online tool

To describe the category of a person’s weight, three separate classes are used : 

  • Underweight : Anyone having a BMI value of less than 18.5 is termed as underweight. These teens require a proper diet and increased calorie intake to stabilize their weight level. 
  • Normal weight: This is when the BMI is in the range of 18.5-24.9. This range usually puts a teen ahead of 55% kids their age in terms of weight. 
  • Overweight: Anyone having a BMI value over 24.9. An hour of daily exercise coupled with a low-fat diet can easily bring this level down to a healthy one. 
  • Obese : People having a BMI range of over 30. These people are highly prone to developing chronic heart diseases, type 2 diabetes and hypertension. 

To calculate BMI, you just need the following readings : 

  • Weight of the body while standing upright without any additional load 
  • Height converted in meters 
  • Formula =Weight (in kilograms)/ Height squared (in meter)

Once you have got a reading, you can compare and check if your child lies in the standard range or not. 

Child’s BMI vs adult: How do they differ?

An adult’s BMI can be calculated by simply putting the values in a standard formula. On the other hand, since the body of a teen develops rapidly and is undergoing constant changes, comparing their BMI against the rest of the population of the same age is a better idea. 

Since most kids also carry out more physical activity than their adult counterparts, their metabolism and body fat percentage is also quite low in comparison. This is not necessarily a bad thing unless the levels fall too low. 

Other methods to get a good idea of your child’s body composition include skinfold thickness tests, densitometry, bio electric impedance tests and blood tests. 

Relation between body fat and fitness

The higher the concentration of fat in one’s body, the less explosive strength they possess. High body fat also reduces our flexibility meaning that a teen will have to exert a greater force to do the same task as compared to a muscular individual. 

It is due to this fact that overweight adults can often be seen developing health problems at later stages of their life.

Muscular and cardiorespiratory endurance, speed, and agility may be improved by reducing non-essential body fat.

What is an ideal healthy weight range for female teens?  

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During teen years or adolescence, childrens see a significant change in their height, weight and body structure. All these stem from various hormonal changes that occur in their body. 

Development of breasts and deposition of fat around the waist causes the weight of female teens to increase. The hips may get wider as well. 

For early teens, the ideal weight for females lies between 30-48 kilograms whereas females around 18 years of age should typically weigh between 52-68 kilograms.  

For the same age and height though, boys tend to have a slightly lower value of BMI. This is primarily due to the fact that women store 6-11% more body fat as compared to males. 

This is due to the fact that estrogen lessens the fat burning ability inside a woman’s body and to also prepare them for childbearing in later stages of their life. 

Maintaining a healthy body mass index 

As stated above, keeping your child in a healthy BMI range will be fruitful in the later stages of life. Common causes behind an unhealthy weight in female teens include excessive snacking, consumption of high-sugar junk foods, poor sleep and excessive screen time. 

Whether your kid is under or overweight, practicing a healthy lifestyle will bring positive changes in no time. 

Tips to regulate your child’s body fat

  • Increased outdoor activity : 

Regular physical exercise helps lose weight and keep it in check by burning calories and building muscle. Including some lightweight strength training exercises may also be a good idea. 

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Activities like riding your bike to school or taking the dog for a walk will help your teen become more active on a regular basis. 

  • Reducing screen time :

Children who spend a great deal of time in front of the television are most likely to be overweight. Parents should set a limit on screen time on devices like TV, video games and computers. 

To ensure a good night’s rest, turn off all electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime.

  • Going easy on the portion size :

Frequent and irregular meals can also lead to obesity. Instead of going with fatty foods, parents should encourage their kids to eat their greens and lower the portion size. High carb foods which are rich in fiber (apple, oatmeal, boiled potatoes) can also be given.

If your child’s weight levels still seem to be out of proportion, you can contact your child’s healthcare provider. Only your healthcare provider can guide you on how to alter your teen’s diet.  

BMI Calculator