People who are tall have easier lives. Call it “tall privilege,” if you want. But the bad news is that the average height of Americans is decreasing.
Statistically, tall people make more money and do better in school. They also get easier pregnancies and less heart or respiratory diseases. A few more inches in height could also help you live longer.
Studies show that height is mostly determined by genetics. It can also be influenced by the environment. A slow functioning economy, a bad diet or inequalities can prevent whole countries from growing to their fullest ability.
A recent survey looks at how these factors have affected the average height of the people in the world, over the last 100 years. They analyze what nations grew, who shrunk, and more importantly how and why.
The biggest growth spurt was documented by South Korean women and Iranian men, who grew by an average of eight inches, and six and a half inches. This happened over a number of years, since 1896.
In South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, statistics show the opposite: people did not grow, and adult height might have even decreased since the 1960s, according to some evidence.
United States citizens used to be the third and fourth tallest in the world. But men and women sported low height gains, and America was the first high-income country to plateau, followed by the UK, Finland, and Japan.
However, as the height decreased, the Body Mass Index (BMI) increased significantly. This situation has to do with poor diets and the lack of nutritional knowledge.
A worse example of the connection between nutrition and height happened in Africa, during the culminating point of the economic troubles of the 80s. Many kids and teens were malnourished since birth and could not achieve their full growth potential.
James Bentham, co-author of the study, from Imperial College – London, believes that our height is affected by our environment we grew up in, too. And that influences our health and even our life expectancy as adults. The main idea is to give children a good start in life now, for them to be healthier and productive for many decades to come.
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Image Source – Flickr