This article on adolescents prepuberty weight gain is part of a series on teenage nutrition. You can read the introduction to this series from these two articles “What Is On Your Family’s Breakfast Plate” and “Teenage Nutrition: Why You Should Pick This Battle For Your Adolescent.” We are very excited to bring you this and hope you feel comfortable to add your own thoughts, tips and suggestions.
Preteen and teenage weight gain: what can you expect?
In a blink of an eye your child grows up. During the teenage stage there are significant physical changes, including increased weight gain to help support height and physical growth. Some statistics:
- Children gain on average between 30-40 pounds (13.5-18.0 kilograms) between age 11-14.
- A child can gain 20 pounds (9 kilograms) or more in one year.
- Girls gain weight first as a layer of fat all over the body and then more around breast, hip and thighs.
- Girls appear “fat” before curves appear.
- To support large increases in height and weight your preteen and teenager will eat more, will be hungrier, and need to sleep more.
- Weight gain during puberty accounts for about half of their adult ideal weight.
Weight gain in teens in normal and it supports large growth period
It can be a concern to see your preteen or young teenager blossom in places, particularly when they have always been a lean child. The weight gain is part of physical growth and supports your teen’s growth in height. As an adolescent’s growth velocity increases, they physically begin to thin out and the weight gain is adjusted on their bodies. Statistics on teenage height growth patterns:
- The beginning of growth velocity is approximately 9 years old for girls and 11 years old for boys.
- The growth spurt lasts 2-3 years.
- Growth in height and weight occurs 1 1/2 to 2 years earlier for girls than boys.
- On average, the peak in height growth is 11.5 years for girls and 13.5 years for boys.
Why shouldn’t parents worry about weight gain during preteen and early teen years?
Because weight gain is a natural progression during preteen and early teen years. Worrying parents, in particular mothers with their daughters, can put unnecessary pressure on their teenager’s eating habits. These are typical reactions from concerned parents:
- Talking to your teen too much about their eating habits
- Encouraging them to eat less
- Making comments such as “do you really need to eat this?” or “you are getting a little hefty”
- Using food as a reward or bribe
- Having your child weigh themselves on a regular basis
These comments and actions can be damaging to a teenager’s body and weight image and can lead to more eating problems.
The critical reasons we need to be careful with the weight and body image words we say to our kids
- Eating disorders
- Body image disorders
- Self confidence issues
- Teenage girls feel pressure to live up to Barbie doll and media images of thin women
With an estimated half a million teens in America with eating disorders, we need to be aware that the comments and looks we give to our kids and their eating habits and body image can have long-lasting effects.
Is there a time when we should be concerned with a teenager’s weight issues?
There are two times: if a teenager loses or gains a significant amount of weight during a short period of time. If a child is overweight or obese before puberty, education on healthy eating is a critical part of a teen having a successful body image. A child should never be put on a diet, but support for teen on good food choices and physical activity can help a child potentially make their ideal weight during teenage years. For more information on teen’s eating disorders or non diet approaches to a preteen’s obesity, please continue to follow this series on teenage nutrition.
Here are some articles published from this series on teenage nutrition. Feel free to click on the links here:
Teenagers and Energy Drinks, Teens and Endocrine Disruptors, Teens and Eating Disorders, Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Teens, Teens and Caffeine, Importance of Good Nutrition in Teens, Vitamin and Mineral Supplements in Teens,Vegetarianism in Teens. and Hormone Changes in Teens Affect Their Smell.
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Statistics for this article were taken from Adolescent Health Curriculum.
Note from editor: just published, “10 Simple Ways to Eat Like the French Without Having the Food Snob Attitude”. The title sounds a bit snobby, but actually these are easy ways to eat healthier and lose weight too, an added bonus! Click here to subscribe to BrightonYourHealth and get this free E-report in your email box!