Recent Blog Articles

Children's Health

How much should teens weigh to prevent heart disease as adults?

April 19, 2016


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.


April 25, 2016

I find this article relevant at least in my case. I used to eat a lot lesser than what my teen eats today, and a lot healthier, even though my daughter does not touch diet sodas, there are so many unhealthy diet temptations for all of us today than ever before. She is only 19 years old and already weights what I did when I was 28, despite the fact that she exercises regularly. I am 45 years now and struggling with midlife bulge, and I do wonder and worry what will happen when she reaches my age. BMI, calorie count etc are one thing… I feel we need to lean more towards healthy eating and eating more plant based food, portion control, mindfulness etc. – invariably we have to clean up our act when we get older. Why not start them young? I sometimes feel we need to overhaul our thinking towards food and lifestyle completely.

Janet Newkirk
April 22, 2016

Correlation does not equal causality. Basic statistics, being used irresponsibly AGAIN. The last thing we need is more teens skipping meals and drinking more diet sodas. Insofar as this is useful information, it is because it suggests that we look more deeply at teens’ health. Weight itself is a red herring — a symptom, not the problem itself.

Kimberly Yu, S. Bryn Austin, Carly Guss, Allegra R. Gordon, and Erica L. Kenney of the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders
April 22, 2016

While weight is one factor that can affect adult health, pressures on teens to lose weight are already pervasive and can be incredibly damaging to a young person’s mental health and well-being given the ubiquity of weight-related stigma and discrimination in our schools and larger society. Considering the serious health risks associated with eating disorders, statements that pressure teens to be thinner, instead of healthier, especially from healthcare providers and parents, can be more harmful than beneficial even when said with the best of intentions. Additionally, a focus exclusively on weight loss, rather than on overall health, can be counterproductive — extreme efforts to lose weight, instead of focusing on improving health overall, often end up backfiring and resulting in more weight gain and worse relationships with food and physical activity in the long run. We hope that pediatricians and primary care providers will consider the whole person as well as the range of factors that contribute to physical and mental health of youth of all shapes and sizes.

April 21, 2016

I found this article, particularly the title, completely upsetting. This type of article will only promote eating disorders, and fuel those struggling with them to stay on a slippery and possibly deadly slope. Every person’s “healthy” weight range is different, and based on their growth since birth! I am so glad the author is not my child’s primary care physician. This is another reason why people, doctors included, NEED to be educated about eating disorders. The number of people who are struggling is staggering, and I realize that the ED field is a specialty, but our kids lives are on the line here.

Taylor Lewis
April 21, 2016

Now a days fitness is very important for everyone,so exercise and healthy diet is required.If you are fatty and want to loss weight quickly go to the CalMWM clinic.They will provide you three step weight loss program,during this program you are completely guided by doctors and clinic staff.

Peter Ellis
April 20, 2016

I take no issue with the teachings about a health lifestyle. But the CDC’s BMI is grossly misleading. It tells me I’m overweight because a male of my height (6’5″) should weigh between 156 (!) and 210 pounds, while my weight varies between 220 and 227 pounds. But I eat healthily, exercise regularly at moderate to high intensity, get adequate sleep, am in good health and my waist size hasn’t varied in decades. If I set myself a target weight of 156 pounds I’d starve l
long before I reached that goal. A skeletal appearance is not “normal”!

Molly Morrison
April 21, 2016

I agree “skeletal” looking I don’t find attractive or beautiful. the women let alone kid should actually eat something. your body will starve your self and your brain will tell your fat cells to stop burning. I am currently on a strict 1200 calorie and less than 50.0g of carbohydrates diet and at least 1-2 hour work out /walk a day. I have lost more that 11 ponuds in a month. Todays diets are outrageous, but I have never felt better. Some diet work for different people. trust me I can understand that but that doesn’t stop me from losing 80 lbs from last month to December. I completely back up some diets work for some people and some don’t it depends on the body type and how much weight you are losing.

April 20, 2016

This is an interesting and important discussion, but with the danger of eating disorders among teens due to societal pressures, I question the wisdom of adding medical pressures to the mix. Being thin is better, yes. But “not thin enough”? Where will this end? Sounds like a dangerous message to send teenagers.

April 20, 2016

Agreed. Thank you.

April 20, 2016

Retrospective and observational so don’t look too much into conclusions made here. Also we know, as a population, that we are getting heavier, and so percentiles are deceptive (can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of using them in BMI).

The real issue here to me is using BMI at all. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how incorrect BMI can be as a determinant for a healthy weight because it does not factor in body fat %. For example, I am 6’3 235 lbs, which puts me as obese on the BMI scale, but no one would ever call me that since I regularly exercise and am very fit and muscular.

I agree with the message of the study that people should be more healthy with their weight in general (notice I didn’t say thinner since that isn’t the only way to have a healthy weight, although it is the easiest), but I wouldn’t put too much stock in a study like this since there are so many limitations and confounding factors.

April 21, 2016

Thank you so much for saying this! The BMI was probably invented by insurance companies so they could avoid paying for the specialized and expensive care of super athletes, most of which would probably come in as obese. Muscle and bone weigh much more than fat and I’ve done the math, there are scenarios where a person could have many more pounds of fat than another but not be considered obese and the person with stronger bones and muscle would be. And this whole argument ‘carrying weight on your frame’. What frame? My father was a mesomorph, and on my lower half I inherited his bones, my knee bone is twice the size of my partner’s and he’s 6’3″. I could never weigh what I’m supposed to without reducing my bone and muscle mass. I’ve had my body fat measured and my lean body mass is greater than what I ‘should’ weigh. This BMI BS needs to stop. Correlations can be very misleading. I won’t stay with a doctor that pushes this concept because they are clearly stupid and gullible.

Hell No
April 20, 2016

telling teen girls that they NEED to be a certain weight because of the findings of one study done in a foreign country that didn’t include a lot of women is VERY irresponsible. girls hear this message constantly to begin with and go to extremes more often than not. Find more studies, get more results before publishing an article with this message and click-bait title.

April 21, 2016

Also amen to this comment – irresponsible to push thinness on any child especially girls. Children need to be taught to eat intuitively. Many studies have proven that when shame is present around food eating disorders follow.

Commenting has been closed for this post.

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.