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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 October 2007, 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK
Short people rate worse on health
Danny DeVito
Actor Danny DeVito is shorter than average height
Short people complain of poorer mental and physical health than those of average height, a study reveals.

Danish researchers examined more than 14,000 responses to the 2003 Health Survey for England.

Men shorter than 5ft 4in (162cm) and women shorter than 5ft (151cm) reported much lower well-being than others, Clinical Endocrinology journal says.

The authors urged more work to clarify precisely why the shorter someone is, the worse they feel about their health.

Height advantage

The results predicted that increasing height could help boost feelings of wellbeing.

If men could add just 7cm (2.7in) to their height and women 6cm (2.3in), their health-related quality of life could be improved by 6.1%.

This is an equivalent improvement to an obese person losing 10-15kg (22-33lb).

We should not make judgements on people if they are tall or short within the normal range. It makes short people feel less adequate
Professor Gary Butler, a professor of paediatrics and growth at the University of Reading

However, the study did not ascertain how healthy the individuals actually were.

Lead researcher Dr Torsten Christensen, senior health economist at Novo Nordisk, said: "We know that people who are short experience more difficulties in areas of their life such as education, employment and relationships than people of normal height.

"Although our study does not show that short height directly causes a reduction in physical health, it does indicate that short people are more likely to feel that they experience a lower health-related quality of life."

Professor Gary Butler, a professor of paediatrics and growth at the University of Reading, said that there was biological evidence that taller people enjoyed better health and lived longer.

"We do know there is an association between being healthier and being taller. This relates to many types of diseases, but particularly heart disease.

"As people get healthier with better nutrition and disease prevention, their growth is better. The two factors go along in parallel."

But he said that being taller was not necessarily better, and said there were issues surrounding how shorter people are perceived in society.

"This work reinforces a message that being taller is better. But we should not make judgements on people if they are tall or short within the normal range. It makes short people feel less adequate or well off which should not be the case."

Being short as an adult can be down to normal development or due to diseases such as growth hormone deficiency or Turner syndrome.

Treatment for children with conditions such as these can increase their final height by 4-10cm (about 2-4in).



SEE ALSO
How older siblings stunt growth
13 Sep 07 |  Health
Scientists discover height gene
03 Sep 07 |  Health

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