Although BMI, or body mass index, isn't a perfect system, it's a common measure used to analyze physical shape and determine if a person is underweight, healthy, overweight or obese. If you're concerned about your teenage daughter's health, use her measurements to determine her BMI and, if necessary, take steps to help her lose weight.
Upon entering your teenage daughter's measurements into a BMI calculator, you'll receive a number that typically falls between 15 and 35. This number puts the teenager into a category that relates to her ideal weight. A BMI of less than 18.5 indicates the teenager is underweight, while a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 indicates that she has a healthy body weight. If the teenager's BMI is between 25 and 29.9, she's overweight. A BMI of 30 or more indicates obesity.
The BMI for your teenage daughter depends on two variables -- her height and her weight. If your daughter is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 145 pounds, she has a BMI of 23.4, which means her weight is healthy. If your daughter is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 165 pounds, her BMI is 28.3, indicating she's overweight. A 5-foot-2 teenager who weighs 185 pounds receives a BMI of 33.8, indicating that she's obese.
While many doctors continue to use BMI to gauge an individual's physical health, some consider the test outdated. The BMI system dates back to the early 1800s, when the average person wasn't nearly as big as people living today. If your teenage daughter is athletic and frequently exercises to gain muscle for sports, she'll be heavier than a healthy non-athlete of her same height. However, her BMI might indicate she's overweight or even obese, even if she's physically healthy. If you're not convinced that BMI is the best test for your teenager, consider a skinfold test, which indicates an individual's body fat percentage.
If your teenager is overweight or obese, help her make lifestyle changes to improve her physical fitness. Overweight teenagers often become overweight adults, and learning healthy habits as a teenager can help her throughout life. Encourage her to get at least an hour of physical exercise per day and discourage her from spending excessive time watching TV or using the computer. Replace high-calorie, unhealthy foods in your home with low-calorie, healthy items.