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Monday, January 25, 2010

Why are American's Still Growing and How did They Get So Tall

Posted by patrick

By Ellen Roberts

In the past 50 years height has stabilized and the average American men's height is about 5 feet 9 inches and for women its 5 feet 4 inches. The average American's height has hit the ceiling so to speak. "In terms of stature we've pretty much maxed out. Over the last generation there has been little change in height", says an anthropologist, William Leonard, at Northwestern University. There was a time when it was expected that the children were to outgrow their parents. In the 20th century in American every 20 years both children and adolescents grew about an inch and a half.

You Are What You Eat

Leonard explains the reason is that most American youths now face few nutritional or health-related stresses. Most Americans have avoided diseases and have consumed enough meat and milk in their youth to reach their potential genetic height growth due to the fact that most people grow most as infants than as adolescents.

"In ethic compositions there are large heterogeneity" says Leonard. "Asian-American and Hispanic Americans is where height increasing is still happening." According to Leonard what leads to malnutrition and health care problems, and generations of children still growing not reaching the maximums yet are immigration population and communities where there are social economic constraints. Leonard also points out that height averages has more or less stabilized, but there is a small population where increase height are still happening (still not large enough to effect the overall averages).

Since the 30's, studies has shown how a person's environment (which points towards nutrition) can not only affect directly a person's size, but their body height as well. Sixty years ago, analysis was done on European immigrants to the United States and researchers showed that immigrant children born in the US were taller and had larger heads and broader facial features than their foreign born parents and siblings. Studies that were done more recent in the 60's and 70's has even more directly indicated the importance of nutrition to height growth. Anthropologists analyzed a series of villages in Central America. They provided nutritional growth supplements to some infants and placebo to the other infants. The children who had the supplements overwhelmingly grew taller and throughout their life and were more successful.

Growing Stages of Life

Leonard also points out that by the age of 17 is when girls reach their maximum height while boys tend to grow a little later reaching their tallest by 20 years of age. During the first two to three years of a human's life is when they grow the fastest, and they will continue to grow taller throughout childhood until about the age of 10 or 11 years of age. Since growth occurs almost exclusively in infancy and adolescence, it is critical that a person receives good nutrition to get taller.

America's most famous tall person, Wilt Chamberlain, grew four inches within three months at 15 years old which is a huge growth spurt. He was a towering 7 feet 1 inch when he played college basket ball. Leonard points out that growing beyond 20 years is rare, but late growth spurts are more likely to occur when there are poor nutrition in their earlier stages in life. A great example is that malnourished communities in South America will continue to grow throughout their 20's. They still remain shorter than most Americans because they grew less during the most critical stages of growth which was the years of their childhood.

Height Can Determine Your Life Span

David Gunnel, an epidemiologist at England's University of Bristol, did a recent study that showed good body height meant a long life in the old days. Since increased height is a result of a person's early health and nutrition, its possible to say that its a good indicator of one's longevity.

Gunnel was able to show with his studies that the length of the bone correlates to overall height by exhuming and measuring hundreds ninth to nineteenth century arm and leg bones from English Graves. According to him the longer the bone the more likely a person lived beyond the age of 30.

Being tall in the more modern time can help someone sexually and professionally be more successful. Studies have shown that in the United States presidential candidates that are taller are most likely to be elected (with the exception of the recent George W. Bush) and based on hearsay evidence the taller a person is the more attractive they are and can find sexual partners easier.

Height's Disadvantages

Predators and parasites prey less on taller animals because they tend to be less agile. In order to survive when food is scarce, oversized animals need to eat more. Animal evidence show that being too tall can have drawbacks according to Wolf Blanckenhorn of the University of Zurich, Switzerland. There are other difficulties that are pointed from hearsay evidence. "Tall basketball players have their own everyday life disadvantages with food, clothing, living quarters, beds, etc." says Blackenhorn. There is strain to the circulatory and skeletal systems when a human is very tall.

Now that Americans have reached their genetic growth potentials, anthropologists think that its unlikely they will develop a new genetic pool to grow even taller. Which means that Americans that are very tall will continue to be perceived as...very tall. And according to Leonard, being different in which ever way, even in height, is rarely ever easy. But there is one publication called Growing Taller 4 Idiots that will help anyone who wants to advance their growth by a few inches naturally. People will always find ways to get taller, whether it be with a growth enhancer, a growth booster, a growing taller exercise, or books on how to increase your height or how to make yourself taller. And the question will always remain amongst horizontally challenged people is "How can I grow taller?".

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