Facts & Opinions About Height
Did you know that the golden ratio of Leonardo Da vinci's "Vitruvian Man" shows that our wingspan is meant to equal our height - (I'm not the perfect man, then!) Or, is that when you wake in the morning you will be almost an inch taller than before you sleep at night?
Well, neither did I before researching this post!
If you're on the shorter or taller side of the spectrum then at one time or another you've probably wondered if you're blessed for not being average in height, and there are some interesting facts about this too.
From the incredible height of the world's tallest ever man to a supplement that can help you grow a few millimeters (every little counts), this list explores the world of height.
Here are some Interesting facts and opinions about Height:
1: Growth Hormone Is Essential To Grow
We can thank the human growth hormone (HGH) as a major determinant to aid our growth and to stimulate cell reproduction and regeneration in humans and animals. Levels of production peak during puberty when we experience a significant height increase. Primary periods where it is released are when sleeping, through high-intensity exercise such as running, and through intermittent fasting.
The pituitary gland never totally stops producing HGH, yet after our growth plates have fused it will no longer help to make you taller. However, HGH continues for several purposes, such as maintaining healthy tissue around the body, and a lack of it can result in anxiety/depression, higher body fat, and a general lack of interest in things.
2: Our Fastest Rate Of Growth Is In The Embryo
The fastest period of human growth is when we are still happily snoozing in the embryo, and in the final few weeks before birth HGH starts playing its part and takes dramatic effect, so much so that if this was sustained after birth would provide us almost 2 feet of growth per year! This means that by the age of 5 we would be 9-10 feet tall (giant alert!)
3: Your Height Changes Throughout The Day
Another interesting fact about height is that it fluctuates during the day, between a 'high' and 'low', with the average daily shrinkage at around 2 cms. It is common to lose around 1cm after a few hours of waking up and being within a few mm's of your 'low' height by dinner time.
The reason we shrink is due to the intervertebral discs becoming dehydrated as the day goes on and spinal compression occurring. One factor contributing to daily shrinkage is the length of the spine, with longer than average vertebral bodies being more susceptible to shrinkage.
There is a little test you can do to prove that you shrink. Try measuring your height, then laying down for 20-30 minutes and measuring your height again, and you might be surprised at what you see!
However, if you don't like the idea of shrinking almost an inch, then you can combat this by keeping well hydrated, incorporating a stretching routine, and taking glucosamine supplements (read further down), which can help combat this! it is very possible to minimize height loss during the day.
4: It Is Possible To Grow Into Your 20's
It is commonly known that people stop growing around 18 years of age. However, this is not always the case. Although uncommon, people can still grow into their 20's. Examples of this are basketball stars Dennis Rodman who grew 10 inches at age 20, and Paul George who grew 2 inches at age 21.
The reason we stop growing is due to a fusing of the growth plates, which can be delayed in some individuals.
A simple x-ray can determine if your plates have fused, so if they refuse to close then you are still eligible for bonus height! The bottom line is we never know what the human body is capable of...
5: The Shortest And Tallest Countries Are Laos And The Netherlands (2022)
The Lancet medical journal collected an exhaustive amount of data from 200 countries and determined the tallest and shortest men and women on the planet.
The findings showed that the tallest people currently reside in northwestern and Central European countries. Number 1 on the list, however, is the Netherlands, with the average height of a 19-year-old at 1.83.8 cm (6'.08") for men and 1.72m (5.7'.7") for women! (1)
On the contrary, the shortest countries typically reside in Southeast/South Asia with Laos topping the list for men with an average of 1.59cm's (5'2.6") and Timor-Leste and Bangladesh for women with an average height of 150cm's (4'11.06"). (1)
If we compare the tallest and shortest countries we can see a difference of 24.8cm's/10.2 inches for men and 22 cm's/8.1 inches for women!
6: Genes Make Up For 80% Of Our Adult Height
It is commonly known that genetics determine your adult height. However, did you know that height is only determined by 80% genetic makeup, or DNA, as estimated by Scientists.
There is a range of other factors that also influence height, including levels of nutrition and hormones, sleep cycles, and how active you are. Also, there are medical conditions that can affect how much you grow.
7: We Shrink As We Age
There's no need to be alarmed here, as it happens to the best of us. Height loss is a natural process.
Studies on this subject seem to vary, but one study concerning height loss was conducted in Maryland USA, with 2,084 men and women aged between 17-94 (2). Participants were measured over a time scale of 9 times in 15 years for men and 5 times in 9 years for women.
The results found that for both men and women losing height begins at around age 30, and from ages 30-70 the average loss is 3 cm or 1.18 inches for men and 5cm or 1.97 inches for women. This means that the average woman will lose more height than a man over her lifespan.
There are activities that can both increase and decrease height loss. For example, constantly putting excess pressure on the vertebral columns from high-impact activities, such as weightlifting and so on can speed it up.
On the contrary, with a proper stretching routine practicing pilates or yoga, and with a healthy diet including supplement intake, it's very possible to considerably slow down the process of height loss.
8: Medical Conditions Associated With Being Short Or Tall
Shorter People Are More Susceptible To:
An international genetic study under the leadership of the University of Bonn indicated that for men premature hair loss can be attributed to a number of physical traits, including being on the shorter side.
According to The Guardian, through a study conducted with 200,000 people, findings concluded that there is a 13.5% added risk of heart disseize for every 6.35 cms (2.5 inches) shorter you are (3). So, those of you who stand at 5 feet 2 inches are around 27% more probable of getting coronary heart disease than those who are 5 feet 7 inches.
Although, this may not be solely due to height itself, as there are around 180 genes that contribute to being short, which can also leave you at risk of heart problems.
The University of Copenhagen explored data from 666,333 Danish men, which indicated that for men there is a 10% reduction in the risk of developing dementia for every 6cm's of height above 1.75 cm's or 5 ft 9 inches. (4)
Taller People Are More Susceptible To:
Research from the World Cancer Research Fund International indicated that taller people have a greater risk of developing 6 cancers, which include pancreatic, breast, kidney, and ovarian (5). However, it also mentions that rather than height itself being the direct link to cancer, it is the process that your body has undergone to make you tall which may leave you more susceptible.
Taller people are more at risk of developing blood clots, which could be due to longer legs and gravity increasing pressure on the veins and blood flow.
Neck Spine And Back Problems
Due to most workspaces being designed for the average person, taller people will have to lean over at a greater angle, which can take its toll on longer necks and spines. In fact, in any situation where you are forcefully leaning, such as being on an airplane, bus, or ducking under something, can affect your posture and possibly lead to spinal problems. So, the taller you are the greater the risk of these types of problems occurring.
9: Shortest Tallest And Humans In History Were 1'8" And 8'11"
The tallest human in modern history was named Robert Wadlow, who was American from the state of Illinois. He also held the nickname "The giant off Illinois", and for good reason.
He was clinically measured at 8'11.09", and weighed 439 lbs (almost 200kg!) If he was wearing shoes he would have been over 9 feet tall, which easily clears most ceilings!
Unfortunately, Robert passed away at just 22 years old, and his coffin measured 10'9" and weighed 450kg!
He also holds the record for the largest feet ever recorded by a human, measuring in at a whopping size 37 (47 cm in length.) There is a life-sized statue of him in his hometown of Alton, Illinois, so if you are ever close by then be sure to marvel at this monument and his amazing stature!
The shortest verified human in history was from Nepal, whose name was Chandra Bahadur Dangi. He measured in at 54.6 cm (1.8 feet). To put things into perspective, he was just 7.4 cm taller than Robert Wadlow's shoe length!
It's unknown what medical condition limited his growth, however contrary to Robert's height limiting his lifespan, Chandra's short stature didn't affect his life expectancy or having a great deal of fun, and he lived to be a respectable 75 years old while also touring around The World to showcase his God-given gift!
10: There Are Tricks to Look Taller
If you don't like your height and wish you could look in the mirror and suddenly appear a few inches taller, then there are some interesting tricks you can use to make that happen. These range from the color combination of your outfits, hairstyles, the way you hold your posture, to the confidence in your voice!
However, if you're looking for a quick fix then a pair of higher-heeled shoes will do the job nicely. Fortunately, it's possible to keep yourself looking taller all year round, even on the beach, as height increasing shoes come in styles ranging from sandals, loafers, dress shoes, boots, and sneakers!
11: Surgery Can Make You Taller or Shorter
Leg lengthening surgery can be performed to gain a few inches of height. There are different methods available (internal and external), with internal methods costing upwards of 100k dollars for the lengthening process.
It is also possible to get shorter through surgery, and one of the rarest surgical procedures in the world is height reduction surgery, but this is usually used to treat uneven leg lengths.
Although not impossible to find a surgeon, height reduction surgery is not a credible surgery to consider for cosmetic purposes.
12: Taller People Might Die Faster
Through multiple research studies, it has been shown that shorter or smaller body size is related to a longer life expectancy (not including dwarves). This is also independent of sex. Further, one 1991 study in Ohio of 1,700 deceased men and women indicated that men of 5'9 lived on average to be 71, where taller men of 6'4" were on average 64 years old when they died, indicating that taller people died around 1.2 years faster for each inch of increased height. (6)
There is also an interesting correlation between the average life expectancy of a male and a female and their average height, with one study in 2018 about the innovation of aging, pointing out a close inversion of male and female life expectancy, with males on average being 7.8% taller than women, while also having a similar 8.4% decrease in average life expectancy. (7)
13: Drinking Coffee Does Not make You Shorter
This is a myth, and coffee will not make you shorter. Indirectly, however, if you're drinking multiple cups of coffee a day then there is a chance that you are lacking the required nutrients for maximum growth, which can cause adverse health problems.
Alongside this, caffeine is a stimulant of the nervous system, which can affect sleep cycles, and sleep is an essential component for growth (HGH production.) Therefore, excess coffee intake might have an indirect effect on your height, and it's recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that you limit your coffee intake to 1 cup a day if you're under 18.
14: Drinking lots of Milk Might Make You Grow Taller
Research is mixed in deciding whether milk will make you grow taller. On one side there is evidence suggesting a small increase in height after consuming milk daily from childhood to adulthood, but this does not factor in other essential components such as intake of protein, vitamins, nutrients, and environmental factors.
One thing is for sure though, and that's drinking milk is a valuable component for muscle health, and it's associated with increased bone mass and mineral content. So, in other words - unless you have milk intolerance, it won't hurt you to drink 1 cup daily.
15: Taller People Might Be Smarter
After research conducted by Edinburgh University in Scotland of 6,815 unrelated people, it was found that after accounting for age and sex, there was a "modest" correlation between height and intelligence, so the taller the person the more intelligent they were. However, it also showed that this correlation could be due to other shared genetic factors. (8)
So, the link between height and intelligence is not clear cut, and therefore it cannot be determined if on average shorter people have less intelligent brains than their taller counterparts.
16: You Will Probably Never Meet Someone 7ft Or Over
Ask yourself - who is the tallest person you've ever seen? For me, the tallest man in the world visited my hometown once, with reports of him ducking under the Woolworth's supermarket door!
Unfortunately, I never got to see him, so I will have to go with around 6'8".
The reality is that unless you're lucky enough to be a regular NBA game attendee, where even then only 9% of players are 7ft or over, the likelihood is that you've never seen somebody who is genuinely over 7 feet tall. This is for good reason, with roughly 2800 people currently alive being 7 feet tall or over.
If we count for the world population of around 7.4 billion, then that equates to 0.000038% of people - let that sink in for a moment!
If you want to see somebody 8 feet or over, then you will have to scout them out, with only 20 confirmed in World history, and 4 alive as of 2021!
17: Taller People Are More Likely to Earn More Money
There's a growing body of research across the globe that indicates being taller benefits your bank account.
One study using Mendelian randomization analysis in China took 3,500 Chinese adults to test whether height was a determinant in annual income. (9)
After ensuring factors such as age or gender were equal, they concluded height as a key factor of professional success, with each extra 1cm of height equating to a 1.03% increase in annual income, which is interesting to say the least.
Another study from the Journal of Applied Psychology found that being taller brings home more money (10). They concluded that after taking into consideration age, weight, and gender, an additional inch of height can earn you over $789 more per year.
The reality is that although in the business world a couple of centimeters may seem of little value, the return on investment is something that could make investing in a pair of elevator shoes highly beneficial, bringing into discussion the psychological impacts of height.
18: Glucosamine Can Make You Taller
Yes, it's a real thing, and if you are looking to increase your height in 4 weeks, this may work for you. Primarily used to prevent the wear and tear of aging joints, glucosamine comes with the hidden benefit of adding height!
I first read about research conducted by Dr. Peter McCarthy, from the Welsh Institute of Chiropractic at Glamorgan University, which indicates that taking 1500mg's of glucosamine daily over the period of 4 weeks can add a few mm's to your height (2-4 mm's to be exact). (11)
They concluded that the supplement can affect the spinal height of normal, non-arthritic subjects.
So, I decided to give it a go and used the supplement for 6 weeks without measuring myself in-between. I measured myself at 10 pm for 7 days both before and after taking the supplement.
The results correlated alongside the study and it helped me to stand on average 3mm taller at night after 6 weeks of use.
I hope you learned something new from these interesting facts and opinions about height. Some of them were fascinating for me, such as when I found out how tall the tallest ever human was, so I measured 9 feet on a tape measure and was completely stunned!
It also appears there are both advantages and disadvantages of being shorter or taller, and with breakthroughs in Science, I'm sure there are many more on the way!
1: THE LANCET: Height and body-mass index trajectories of school-aged children and adolescents from 1985 to 2019 in 200 countries and territories: a pooled analysis of 2181 population-based studies with 65 million participants