Height linked to how good a person thinks their health is

Published on October 18, 2007 at 10:51 AM · No Comments

Your height in adult life significantly affects your quality of life, with short people reporting worse physical and mental health than people of normal height.

This large, peer reviewed study, which appears in Clinical Endocrinology, shows that adult height is linked to how good a person thinks their health is. Short people judge their state of health to be significantly lower than their normal height peers do.

The data for this study came from the 2003 Health Survey for England, carried out by the UK Department of Health. In this survey, participants filled out a health-related quality of life (HRQoL) questionnaire and a nurse measured their height. Researchers, led by Senior Health Economist Torsten Christensen at Novo Nordisk A/S in Denmark, used this data to assess the relationship between height and HRQoL. A person's health-related quality of life refers to their perceived physical and mental health over time. The questionnaire does not measure how good a person's health actually is; it measures how good a person thinks their health is. The questionnaire examined five areas of well-being: mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain/discomfort, and anxiety/depression. The researchers controlled the results in the study for the effects of other well-known indicators of HRQoL such as age, gender, body weight, long-standing illness and social class. In total, this study used the results from 14,416 respondents.

People in the shortest height category (men shorter than 162 cm and women shorter than 151 cm) reported they experience significantly lower HRQoL than people of normal height. Additionally, the shorter you are, the more pronounced this effect becomes. This means that a small increase in height has a much larger positive effect on a short person than it does on a person of normal height. The results predict that people who are of short stature could increase their HRQoL by 6.1% if their height was increased by 7 cm for men and 6 cm for women. This 6.1% difference in HRQoL is equivalent to the HRQoL benefits of losing 10-15 kg for an obese person (with a BMI greater than 30).

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