How Many Calories Do Teens Need a Day?

Food is fuel for your body just as gasoline is fuel for a car. How quickly a car uses gasoline depends on how far and how fast it’s driven. In just the same way, how quickly you use food energy depends on what physical activities you do and how long you do them.

Calories give your body energy. But if you eat more calories than your body needs, the leftover calories are converted to fat. And too much fat leads to health problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Food energy is measured in calories. When you hear that a food or drink contains 100 calories, it’s a way of telling you how much energy it will give you. A cup of shredded lettuce, for example, has less than 10 calories. A cup of peanuts has over 850 calories.

How many calories you need depends on your age, body size, and how physically active you are. The best way to make sure you are not getting too many or too few calories is to check your weight from time to time. If you’re staying within your ideal weight range (Body Mass Index), you’re probably consuming the right amount of calories.

Here are the guidelines for the average number of calories your body needs each day. Remember that these numbers are averages.
  • 7-10 years old: 1,750 calories per day
  • 11–14 years old: 1,850 calories per day
  • 15–18 years old: 2,100 calories per day
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