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Weight - how much should you weigh?

weigh; underweight; overweight; diet; fat; body weight; weight; thin; dieting; body; plump; skinny; puberty; genes; exercise; food; fad; lifestyle ;


Your size and body type

When you are in the 'nearly teens' there are a lot of changes happening in your life.

  • body imageYou may have already started puberty.
  • You may be starting a new school.
  • You may be thinking about boyfriends or girlfriends.
  • You may be noticing how others look or you might want to look like someone you admire.
  • You may look at yourself and feel that you are too thin or too fat.

Research shows that most children and teenagers think that they are too thin or too fat, but in fact most of them are about the right weight for their body!! Before you start giving yourself a hard time, have a talk with mum or dad, or whoever looks after you.

  • Your size and body type have a lot to do with the genes you inherited from your parents and their parents and their parents etc.
    (Our topic on "Body image" will give you some information about genes and body type.)
  • Also think about how much exercise you do. Little kids run around almost all of the time, but older kids often sit around (watching TV or playing on the computer), and they sometimes don't get enough exercise to keep their bodies healthy.

When you've checked out your genes, your body type, how much exercise you do and have talked with your doctor, you will most likely find that you are just right for your body. Or you might find that you are underweight or overweight for your body type and age.

Being underweight

Most really thin people who have a good diet are just naturally thin.

But if you are underweight you may not be eating enough of the right sort of food that your body needs for growing and keeping you active and healthy, or you might have been sick a lot (this can keep you too thin).

Look at our topic on 'Fuel for your body'.

This will help you to see if you are having the right type and amounts of the foods you need.

When you eat is just as important as what you eat. You cannot expect your body to work hard and feel good all morning if you didn't have any breakfast.  If your body isn't getting enough fuel to keep you going, then you could get sick or run down and you are more likely to be attacked by germs!

Being overweight

If you are overweight then you may need to look at the kinds of food your body needs and those it doesn't (see the topic 'Fuel for your body').

You may also need to look at how much exercise you are getting.

Even if you are not really into sport there are lots of different ways in which you can give your body the exercise it needs to be healthy. (See the topic 'Exercise' for some good ideas.)

It is never a good idea for you to decide by yourself to go on a diet to put on or take off weight.

What you can do

Get to know your body.
Keep a diary for a week.

  • everything you eat (even if you only licked the cake-mixing spoon)
  • everything you do, like walking, sitting, running, skating, lying on the couch etc
  • how you feel at different times during the day eg. tired, hungry, sleepy, and energetic
  • how much sleep you have and how you feel when you wake up.

At the end of the week you should know heaps about how your body works.

Get mum or dad to look at the diary with you.

Changing even one small thing at a time can make big differences over a longer time.

fruitTry things like having breakfast, walking or riding your bike instead of being driven to school, or snacking on 'good for you' foods like fruit and raw vegetables if you need a snack when you're watching TV.

If you and mum or dad can't work out what to do, go and have a talk with your doctor who may suggest some changes in your lifestyle or diet.

Your doctor can calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) using your weight and height to check out how much body fat you have. 


NEVER decide to go on a diet by yourself.

Diets can cause trouble.

  • They can make your body think it is starving so it will store more of your food as fat (you can get fatter instead of thinner on a diet!!).
  • They can make you ill if you are not getting all the right foods that you need.
  • They can make your problem worse.

If you feel that you really must change how thin or fat you are, take your diary with you and go and talk to your doctor.

She or he will help you to find out if you really do need to make some changes that will help you become the right size for you.

Be happy with your body

Everyone is an individual.

  • body imageYour body shape is your own.
  • Your body is your home.
  • Your body works for you.
  • Your body is the only one you've got, so look after it by keeping it clean, feeding it the right food, resting and exercising so that it works well.
  • A healthy body with clean skin, healthy nails, sparkling teeth, bright eyes and shining hair always looks good. 
  • If you look good, you feel good about yourself and that makes you look even better!

And remember that many of the 'perfect' bodies we see on screen or other media may not be quite so 'perfect' in real life. Read our topic on Body image to find out more.

Dr Kim says:

Dr Kim
No-one should go on any diet without talking to a doctor. The latest fad diet to put on or take off weight quickly is not as good as making small changes to your lifestyle, which will lead to a more healthy life for you in the future.

If you were born in Australia your parent or carer will have a book that has records of your size when you were born and your growth in your early years. There are growth charts where your weight and height were recorded and you can see how you have grown compared to 'normal'. Children grow at different rates and it is important that you don't compare yourself to other children. If it seems that your growth is not 'normal' you could ask your parent or carer to talk with a doctor to see if there is anything to worry about.

Big or little, fat or thin
A body's a body whatever shape it's in
Long or short, thin or round
Everyone's legs just reach the ground
Travel for metres, travel for miles
Everyone likes someone who smiles


Be who you are.
Only you can be you.
Don't try to be someone you're not.
You are you and no-one else.

By Tara
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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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