Teen BMI Calculator: Is There a Difference for Teens and Youth?
Whether you have a teenager or you are a teenager, you may have found yourself curious about BMI for teenagers. Do teens follow the same BMI guidelines as adults? Are there BMI ranges a teenager should fall into?
In this article, you’ll learn:
- How to calculate BMI for teenagers
- How to determine whether BMI for teens is healthy
- The healthy (and unhealthy) BMI ranges for teenagers
Ready to learn more about BMI for teens? Let’s dive in.
How do I calculate a teen’s BMI?
When your child (or you, if you’re a teenager) visit the doctor, she will take your height and weight. Using this information, she’ll calculate your BMI, and in most cases will share that information with you.
However, you probably only visit the doctor once each year, or slightly more for sports physicals. That said, if you’ve been working on your weight or you just want to know your BMI, there’s an easy way to calculate it without a trip to the doctor.
First, you’ll need to weigh yourself. Find a reliable scale, and set the units of measurement to kilograms. You can find these at most gyms, or you can also buy them online or in stores. Once you’ve set the unit of measurement, hop on. Take note of your weight in kilograms.
Next, you’ll need to measure your own height. This should be done in meters. Like your scale, your measure will have to be reliable, so don’t just put a yardstick up to the wall! Instead, enlist the help of a friend, and have him or her mark your height.
When they take your height, you should be standing with your heels, your bottom and your shoulders against the wall. The back of your head should touch the wall, too. Stand up as straight as you can, and have your friend make a mark that’s even with the crown of your head.
Using your straight measure, find out how tall you are in meters.
The rest is simple. Just divide your weight by your height, then divide by your height again. The answer you get is your BMI.
What changes with a teen BMI calculator compare to kids?
Now that you know your BMI, you’ll need to know what to do with it. Is your BMI too high? Too low? Just right? Well, to determine that, you’ll need to know the difference between youth and teen BMI and adult BMI.
Adult BMI is pretty straightforward. There are ranges which apply to adults’ BMI which determine whether a body mass index is good or risky. For instance, if you’re an adult and your BMI is 18.5, you fall into a healthy range. If you’re an adult and your BMI is 35, you’re at risk for diseases like diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
If you’re a teenager, though, your risk is determined slightly differently. Your BMI is measured against others your age to determine something called your percentile. Your percentile tells you if your BMI is too high, too low or just right for your age group.
There are charts available online which allow you to enter your BMI and graph your percentile. However, sometimes it’s easy to just use an online calculator. You’ll find these online as well. Just input your age, weight and height and the website will calculate in what range you fall.
What is a healthy BMI for youth and teenagers?
Kids grow at different rates, and at different times in their life. There are also lifestyle differences to account for; for instance, one high school senior may be a football quarterback while another prefers the science lab.
For that reason, medical experts have developed a set of guidelines to determine whether a teenager is in a healthy weight range. If your BMI falls in less than the 5th percentile, you’re considered underweight. It may be best to talk with a doctor about your nutrition and activity levels.
If your BMI is in a percentile range between 85 and 95, you’re overweight. Now, you’re not considered obese, but a teen BMI within this range does put you at greater risk for disease and health problems.
If your BMI is over the 95th percentile, you’re considered obese. Please schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine the right course of action for you to begin losing weight. A healthy lifestyle now will go a long way toward keeping you healthy in the future.
If you fall within the fifth to 85th percentile, you don’t have too much to worry about. Of course, a healthy BMI range doesn’t mean you have zero risk of disease. But it does mean that you’re less likely to be diagnosed with a disease than those in other weight ranges.
Where is the age limit for the teen BMI calculator?
As mentioned, it doesn’t matter how old you are – BMI is calculated using the same method. Weight divided by height, divided by height again equals BMI. But adults’ BMI is measured on a different scale than teens.
If you’re between the ages of 2 and 20, it’s generally accepted that you’ll use the “percentile” method of determining healthy BMI. If you’re over 20, you’ve stopped growing in the same way that youth grows. It’s now okay to use the adult BMI scale.
BMI calculators take into account age, gender, height and weight. They do not, however, take into account activity level, lifestyle choices or the more specific characteristics of youth. If you feel that your BMI is concerning to you in any way, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor! Your doctor can help you to determine whether your weight is appropriate, or whether some lifestyle changes may be in order.
Teenagers and youth use the same BMI calculator?
As mentioned, kids grow at different rates. There are round kids, thin kids, tall kids and short kids. A 10 year old boy could weight 85 pounds or he could weigh 100. And both those boys could be considered healthy. That’s why the percentile method is used.
Kids don’t stop growing until they’re in their late teens. In fact, it’s assumed that the body isn’t fully grown until after puberty – that is, we’re as tall as we’re going to get. However, the structure and density of the muscles continues to grow. This change doesn’t stop until around the age of 20.
Teenagers and youth do use the same BMI calculator. And the BMI of both age ranges are mapped on the percentile chart. It’s important to remember that overweight and obese children face the same risks as overweight and obese adults.
If you’re a child or teenager with a BMI percentile over 85%, you are at risk for:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Some cancers
- Joint problems
It’s time to begin to bring your BMI down into a healthy range so that you can enjoy good health both now and in your adulthood.
How can I maintain a healthy teen BMI?
Of course, a lot of weight management and BMI management just boils down to the choices you make regarding diet and exercise. A healthful diet, with balanced amounts of each of the food groups, is one of the easiest ways to remain within a healthy BMI range. Additionally, exercise is critical. Don’t feel like hitting a treadmill? Just go play outside, or ride a bike!
You can also help to maintain a healthy teen BMI by cutting down on your screen time. Limit your television and your video game time. You might be surprised to learn that children with television sets in their bedrooms are more likely to be overweight than children without!
Overall, your BMI isn’t the only indication of your health, but it’s a good place to begin to assess your risks. Talk to your doctor about how you can keep your BMI in a healthy range, and you’ll greatly minimize those risks!