Do tall people live longer?

Research shows that just the opposite may be true – may being the operative word here. Read on to get the tall-and-skinny.

Let’s start with the research. According to a 2003 article in Life Sciences, data over the past 30 years has shown that shorter people tend to have lower death rates and fewer diet-related chronic diseases compared to taller people. The diet-related part is key here.

Study number two – in 1992 Bulletin of the World Health Organization found that men about 5’6″ or less or less lived 7.46 years longer than men over 6 feet tall. The authors theorized that aging is essentially the phenomena of ‘increasing disorder’ within the body and thus having more mass allows for a greater chance of said ‘disorder.’

Here’s where it gets interesting, though. The same study also found a 7.72-year increase in lifespan for men weighing 140 lbs or less compared with those of 200 lbs or more.

Do tall people typically weigh more? Obviously.

However, what was left out of these studies could largely invalidate their conclusions. That is, key indicators related to overall health such as BMI and body fat percentage. In other words, while more mass may be correlated with a shorter life, it may only be within the context of individuals who are overweight.

Being 6 ft. and 250 lbs – which would put you in the ‘obese’ category of the BMI chart – puts you at increased risk for a decreased lifespan but being tall and thin, on the other hand, may provide no additional risk.

Without the body weight and BMI of all the tall men in these studies, we cannot assume that greater height, relative to the population, has any link to a shorter relative lifespan. All we can gather definitively is that more total body mass, irrespective of height, is generally correlated with a shorter life – but that’s no secret.

The key takeaway from this research is that while overall increased body mass is correlated with a decrease in lifespan, being tall may or may not be. The data is simply inconclusive.

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