Height as an Indicator of Health and Economic Well-Being?
The United States reigned as the tallest country in the world through much of its history as a nation, but in recent years, it has slipped in the ranks while the Northern Europeans and the Dutch have jumped ahead. While you may not think this is a big deal, it’s important to realize that many doctors and economists consider height to be an indicator of health and nutrition, and it’s fairly likely that they are onto something.
“Height is like holding a mirror to a society’s well-being,” said John Komlos, Economist at the University of Munich, in an NPR article.
He added that among the reasons the Dutch are so tall are the country’s focus on good nutrition during pregnancy and childhood, and its healthcare system, which offers equal access to important resources like prenatal care — something we don’t have here in the U.S., where a large percentage of the population is without health insurance.
While many people are a well aware that health and nutrition play a large roll in growing tall and strong, the economics connection comes into play when one considers the fact that two of the largest influences on height — nutrition and health — are also both linked to an individual’s economic well-being. For example, having more money allows more opportunities to eat healthy and nutritious foods, and also facilitates paying for important visits to the doctor.
Additionally, the NPR article points out height and economic success correlate in terms of taller people earning more money, or even being smarter.
“If you’ve reached your maximum height, that probably means you’ve reached your physical and mental development,” says Andreas Schick, a graduate student at Ohio State University, in the NPR article. “That helps you reach your maximum potential, be that intellectually or socially.”
Political discussions and debates these days are rife with talks of healthcare and the economic status of our nation. If this height-to-health correlation does in fact hold weight, the United States may have some work and thinking to do when it comes to its policies regarding prenatal and childhood health and nutrition, because it’s clear these factors may have even larger implications than previously realized.
Image courtesy of Photos8.com