Ask How many calories a day should 12-year-olds eat?
by Kim Bilger, RD, LD

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That's unfortunately a question that's hard to give a simple, specific answer to without seeing the child or knowing his/her gender, height, weight, build, and frequency of physical activity. The amount of calories we need in a day is dependent on a lot of different variables.

For an "average" 12-yr-old male of 88 pounds, he will likely need about 2,000-2,200 calories per day. For an "average" 12-yr-old female of 90 pounds, she will likely need 1,800-2,000 calories per day.

A very good estimate that I have found useful that considers many of these factors is the "My Pyramid Plan" at You can put in the age, gender, weight, height, and physical activity level to get a report of how many estimated calories are needed daily and how they should be divided among the food groups. You can then save or print the colorful, user-friendly reports. This works for children and adults alike and is neat because you can enter new information as the child grows and it provides a great explanation of the food groups and appropriate serving sizes.

Ask is intended for consumer education only. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider with questions regarding your personal health or medical condition.