How Your Height May Affect Your Health


There are times when people get conscious of their height; some want to be a little taller to reach higher places or look like those tall fashion models, while some find being shorter cute and convenient to fit small spaces. This shows that height has its pros and cons regardless of how tall or short you are, which holds true as your height relates to your health too. Although your height doesn’t exactly cause any health conditions, some studies suggest that it affects your likeliness of having certain problems.

A recent study from BMC Medicine contributed to this claim by analyzing the genetic features of height and health-related outcomes in individuals of Han Chinese ancestry in Taiwan. The study found interesting insights, which will be highlighted in this article.


Height is an observable determinant of growth during the entire developmental period of an individual from infancy to adulthood which becomes relatively stable in adulthood. Several studies from the past stated that height is influenced by social and environmental factors, which include educational attainment, smoking, alcohol consumption, and regular exercise. 

According to the source, increased growth and height are linked to higher levels of education and regular exercise. On the other hand, smoking or drinking can lead to a loss of bone mass, reduced growth, and stunted height.

Height could also affect the risks for certain medical conditions. For example, taller people are more at risk of cancer and death from it, but they have a lesser risk of having cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. They also tend to have better retention of cognitive function and healthy aging.  

Some of these associations had been previously established in previous studies, such as the link between height and heightened risk of certain cancers. But the new study contributed to its understanding further by examining genetic determinants of height and their potential health-related outcomes.

Height and its Health-Related Outcomes

After identifying and analyzing the genetic architecture for height in individuals from the Taiwan Biobank—a community-based biobank in Taiwan, the following results were derived;

  • Taller height was associated with decreased body mass index (BMI), waist-hip ratio (WHR), body fat, total cholesterol (TC), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), but with increased body weight, waist circumference, and hip circumference.
  • Taller adults have lower rates of obesity.
  • Taller adults have increased body weight and waist and hip circumferences.
  • Both observational and genetically determined height is inversely associated with blood pressure, lipids, and glucose levels.
  • Taller adults tend to have reduced levels of TC and LDL-C, which means they have a lower risk of developing heart diseases.

The result of the study shows that both the observable trait of height and genetic height is associated with eight traits, including BMI, WHR, body fat, TC, LDL-C, weight, waist circumference, and hip circumference. These eight traits are used to assess the risks of the development of certain health conditions, which means that any factors that affect them are also linked to their associated conditions.

Key Takeaway

It is well established that observational height is linked to various health indexes determining your likeliness of developing certain diseases. The new study’s findings of genetic height relevance to health further strengthen the understanding of the link.

Although you may not be able to modify your height, especially during adulthood, there are still other lifestyle factors that you can control, contributing to the reduced possibility or severity of diseases. Additionally, most of those risk factors can be detected, mitigated, and possibly prevented early. Understanding your risks also lets you pay attention to health factors you control, including a healthy diet and quitting harmful vices.

You may not be able to choose your height, but you can choose the lifestyle you want, so choose to be healthy at all times.

Journal Reference

Chiou, J.-S., Cheng, C.-F., Liang, W.-M., Chou, C.-H., Wang, C.-H., Lin, W.-D., Chiu, M.-L., Cheng, W.-C., Lin, C.-W., Lin, T.-H., Liao, C.-C., Huang, S.-M., Tsai, C.-H., Lin, Y.-J., & Tsai, F.-J. (2022). Your height affects your health: Genetic determinants and health-related outcomes in Taiwan. BMC Medicine, 20(1). 

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