A large-scale study published in Clinical Endocrinology has revealed that height has a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. People with short stature report poor physical as well as mental health well into their adulthood. A person’s belief in their state of health was more negative in those with less than average heights as they perceive their physical condition to have serious drawbacks in comparison to their average height peers.
The findings were reported in a study conducted by the UK Department of Health that was published in the 2003 Health Survey for England. In the study, participants were measured and asked to fill questionnaires related to their quality of life while linking the collected answers with their health status and height. The three variables were combined to obtain information on the link between height and health-related quality of life.
How was Quality of Life Analyzed?
Their quality of life was assessed based on the person’s mental and physical wellbeing. The questionnaire doesn’t actually interpret the person’s health status, but it evaluates how the participant perceives their health status. The questions asked the participants about five areas concerning health which included mobility, daily activities, presence of psychological issues, physical pain or discomfort, and self-care. In addition, they took into consideration other parameters such as gender, age, chronic illness, social standing, and body weight. Overall, the study collected answers from 14,416 participants.
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The participants with heights in the lower than average range i.e. men with less than 162 cm and women with less than 151 cm reportedly had a comparatively lower quality of life than the participants with average height. In addition to this, the shorter the height of the participant, the higher is the negative impact on the person’s health-related quality of life.
The study results predicted that shorter stature participants would increase their quality of life by a whopping 6.1% if they could grow taller by 7 cm in males and 6 cm in females. The increase in 6.1% of health-related quality of life is comparable to a decrease in body weight by 10-15 kg in people with a BMI above 30.
The etiology of short stature can be from inherited disorders, spontaneous mutations resulting in achondroplasia, growth hormone deficiency, Hurler syndrome, Turner syndrome, Hunter syndrome, etc. Treating children with the above conditions with growth hormone replacement therapy can increase their height by up to 10 centimeters.
What Do The Study Findings Indicate?
Earlier studies on the increment in height observed with growth hormone therapy have not examined the psychological impact of the acquired growth in height in the patients. In contrast to these studies, the 2003 study has illustrated the perceived poor health status of short stature, its effect on mental health, and how slight increments in height can result in an improved outlook toward one’s own health status.