Healthy Weights for Teens

A healthy weight is important at any age. We know that healthy eating and physical activity habits promote a healthy weight. But did you know that healthy habits during childhood and adolescence often continue into adulthood?  If you are a teen, read on to learn how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight now.

What is a healthy weight for a teen?

You might have noticed recent changes to your body, including weight gain. Weight gain is a natural part of your growth and development. Healthy bodies come in different shapes and sizes and teens grow and develop at different rates. That’s why health professionals use a special weight measurement called the body mass index, or BMI, for teens. 

The BMI for teens measures how much body fat you have based on your weight and height. This measurement is then plotted by a doctor or a health care professional on a chart and compared with other teens of the same age and sex. The result is in the form of a percentage ranking. A teen would be considered in the overweight range if his or her BMI is greater than or equal to the 85th percentile. 

Why is it important to have a healthy weight during your teen years?

A healthy weight will help you do the activities you enjoy and will help you grow and develop a healthy body. It will also help prevent health problems later in life like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and over-weight and obesity.  

How do I achieve and maintain a healthy weight as a teen?  

Focus on healthy eating and physical activity.  Try the following healthy eating and physical activity tips to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.  

Healthy Eating Tips for Teens  

  1. Follow Canada’s Food Guide to help you make healthy food choices in the right amounts. Eat foods from all four food groups every day. Include at least 3 of the 4 food groups in each meal. 
  2. Avoid foods and drinks high in calories, sugar and fat including carbonated beverages (pop), pizza, potato chips, candy, and fried fast food like hamburgers and French fries.  
  3. Choose snacks from at least 2 food groups with one choice being a fruit or vegetable. For some snack ideas, watch the Quick and Easy Snack Ideas video. 
  4. Pack a healthy lunch the night before. This will save you time in the morning. Use leftovers from dinner or try a quick and easy recipe such as Mango Chicken Wraps. For more tips, check out the Quick and Easy Lunch Ideas video.  
  5. Avoid unhealthy eating habits to lose weight, such as skipping meals and dieting. Unhealthy eating can make it hard for you to pay attention in class and to do the activities you enjoy. It can also put you at risk for weight gain over time, instead of weight loss.  

Physical Activity Tips for Teens

  1. Be physically active for at least one hour every day. This includes moderate activity such as bike riding and vigorous activity like running or rollerblading. To learn more, click here.
  2. Go for a brisk walk after lunch. Even short, 10 minute walks throughout the day will help you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
  3. Limit your screen time to 2 hours per day. This includes watching TV, playing on the computer and video games.  
  4. Pick a new activity like yoga, swimming, dancing or a team sport. It will improve your bone strength and it’s a great work out!  
  5. Help with yard work or walk the dog. Every minute counts toward achieving your physical activity goal for the day. 

Bottom line

Focus less on weight and more on healthy eating habits and physical activity to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. To help you find out what weight is right for you, speak to a health care professional, such as a doctor or a dietitian.  

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Last Update – June 11, 2018

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