Teenage Weight: When A Jump in Your Teen’s Weight May Not Be A Concern

This article on adolescent  pre-puberty weight gain is part of a series on teenage nutrition. You can read the beginning articles in the series here: “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. If you want to read more on teenage  and general nutrition, please subscribe here to our newsletter and article updates.

Preteen and teenage weight gain: what can you expect?

During the preteen and teenage stages 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 be hungrier, will eat more 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 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. Their weight gain is part of a transformation in physical growth and supports your teen’s increase in height. As an adolescent’s growth velocity (speed) 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.

If your teenage growth pattern is normal, why parents shouldn’t worry about weight gain during preteen and early teen years:

If your child suddenly gains more weight than you have seen them carry before, do not begin to panic. Normally, a larger weight gain is part of natural growth 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 who are worrying about their teen’s weight:

  • 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 self esteem, hurting their perception of their 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:

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. If your teenager gains a lot of weight during their preteen or teen growth period but does not thin out or stay weight stable, this is a signal that they may have a potential overweight issue. If at the end of your teen’s growth period, approximately 13-14 years old for girls, and 15-16 years old for boys, your child is overweight, it is best to seek a health professional’s advice on getting your teen on track with a healthier weight.

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.

If you like what you have read here, I would greatly appreciate you sharing it. It may help the next person who is worried about their teen’s weight. Or if you have reached the end and want to read more articles on teens or general health please subscribe to our monthly newsletter and regular article updates. By subscribing you will get your free E-report on  “10 Simple Ways to Eat Like the French Without Having the Food Snob Attitude”. You can join us by clicking on the button below.

 

Wishing you success with your teen. If you have any questions please leave some feedback in the comment section or via email at : mbrighton@brightonyourhealth.com

Statistics for this article were taken from Adolescent Health Curriculum.

 

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44 Responses to “Teenage Weight: When A Jump in Your Teen’s Weight May Not Be A Concern”

  1. Hey, my name is Ximena and I’ve been concerned about my body. I don’t really care about my weight, rather than how I look in my clothes. But, I hit puberty at a young age. (8) And I’ve gained 30 pounds somewhere in my preteen years, (late 11 or early 12) I’m thirteen now, and I’ve read articles concerning my condition. I believe it’s called “Precocious puberty” and they recently put age 8 as “normal.” The problem is, I’ve read I’m supposed to end puberty around ages 14-15. Which is significantly near, AND I LOOK NOWHERE NEAR READY! I’ve gained thirty pounds that were meant to become my “curves” and “breasts” but so far, I have small love handles and I’ve been an A-cup since I was 11 or 10. I feel I should appear more “womanly,” but I resemble girls at my school who just hit puberty last year. I’m semi-confident about my body, but I sometimes wonder if there’s something wrong with me. I already hit my growth spurt, I’m supposed to keep growing but I’m still the same height since last year. I know shortness doesn’t nescessarily run in my family, my brother is fairly tall and I’m barely 5’1! I’m supposed to finish puberty next year or the year after that, and I’m still so short! I really want to reach at least 5’4, but I’ve been losing hope. The only thing that’s been feeding me any hope is the fact that I might “fill-out” a lot better. I’m too big to be considered a “thin” girl, but too flat to be a “curvy” girl. I really hate the thought of being normal, I’ve always wanted to fill out and get an hourglass shape when I’m older. I don’t care much about my shape now if I’m positive I’ll look better in the future, but at this rate I’m losing hope. :/
    (P.S. I’m fairly active.)

    • Dear Ximena, Big apologies for this late reply. I understand your concerns about your height, and your body. I sense that you are confident about your appearance but you question if you will continue with puberty and whether you will fill out in your breast area and in height. I would really recommend a detailed visit with your General Practitioner (doctor) with your concerns. A doctor can look at your physical appearance and check at what state you are in puberty. The statistics you read online about puberty (age it stops, etc) are GENERAL, there are always exceptions. The fact that ‘hit’ puberty at a young age is another reason to have a detailed visit with a doctor. You are still young (13 years old), and you have years ahead of you until you reach ‘womenhood.’ Stay active and hopeful. I wish I could help you more, I feel that you need a medical view on your hormones and state of puberty and this is not my area of expertise. As far as the weight is concerned, keep active and eat well. By staying the same weight you will continue to develop your body’s shape. Let me know if you have any questions. Mary

  2. My daughter is 18 and struggled with anexoria years ago. Recently, she started rapidly gaining weight (9+ pounds in 2-3 weeks). She is freaking out mentally and her doctor is not really”listening”. So she is 5’3″ and had been 110, now at 119, while this seems like no big deal to others it’s a huge deal to her. She was previously diagnosed with autoimmune and iron deficiency as well. She was put on bc pills to help related her hormones for purposes of the migraines she was getting. She has been on these for 5 months and did gain about 4 lbs initially. Any suggestions on where to get some help?

    • Dear GP, Your doctor doesn’t seem aware on how this weight gain can affect your daughter’s anxiety. I would suggest a private call to her doctor or the nurse working with the doctor to push them to understand your daughter’s weight fears. Plus, this much weight in 2-3 weeks is quite a lot. If after a private phone call her doctor is not willing to put more effort into finding out what is happening, I would suggest getting a second opinion or changing doctors.
      Let me know what is happening… I hope you find answers, I am sorry I can’t be more helpful. Warmly, Mary

  3. I just turned 14 years old, 138 lbs, and 5′ 6. People tell me I look to be much thinner than I am. However, when I go to the doctor’s office and the nurses weigh me, I can tell that they are shocked at my weight.. keep in mind that all the nurses are very petite and I basically tower over them. Every year after I hit puberty I gained about 10 pounds and now I’m afraid I’ll be overweight after puberty and in the future. I justify my weight because I danced for a long period of time and because of my height. Is my weight normal?

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