Does your weight affect your height growth?

The intricate relationship between a person's height and weight has long piqued our curiosity. We've all wondered at some point whether shedding a few extra pounds could make us stand a little taller or if carrying excess weight might somehow compress our stature. While the notion of losing a couple of pounds leading to a significant height gain may seem far-fetched, the truth is that substantial weight loss can indeed have a remarkable impact on one's height. The science behind this intriguing connection between weight and height is equally fascinating. So, before you embark on your weight loss journey in hopes of gaining a few inches in height, let's explore the mechanisms that make this phenomenon possible.

Science or myth?

It is widely recognized that an excess of body fat poses significant risks to one's overall health. Beyond the well-documented link between excess weight and conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases, it raises an intriguing question about its impact on stature. Is there any truth to the notion that individuals carrying excess weight tend to be shorter than those maintaining a healthy weight?

This interesting subject caught the attention of not only the public but also the scholarly world. In fact, multiple studies have been conducted to figure out whether a person’s weight has anything to do with their height. It turned out that YES, your weight can affect your height growth to a considerable extent. Specifically, taking into account the race, ethnicity, and age of participants, research has shown a significant influence of obesity status on the height growth of both males and females. Obese or overweight young adults experience less growth in height during their growing years, especially adolescence, in comparison with normal-weight young adults [1].

So, does this mean losing weight will increase height?

Good news for you! If you find yourself in the obese category, then losing a remarkable amount of weight may actually help.

A scientific study in 2012 attempted to document the changes in height after weight reduction of the body’s intervertebral discs among obese patients. The results revealed that your disc height is significantly restored after weight loss. The researchers also found an increase by 2 mm in a single intervertebral disc [2].

From this evidence, we can deduce a significant revelation: when an individual carries excess weight or falls into the realm of obesity, their spine bears the burden of supporting that additional mass. Shedding those surplus pounds not only relieves the strain on the spine but also grants you the ability to stand more upright than ever before.

Moreover, the surplus weight exacts a toll on your joints, especially the knees. To illustrate this, picture yourself sitting on a pillow; it would naturally compress to some extent. However, if you and a group of friends were to sit on that same pillow simultaneously, it would sink even further due to the added weight. This analogy mirrors how excess weight impacts your joints. Consequently, a substantial reduction in body weight can result in reduced overall compression and a taller, more upright stature.

Nonetheless...

Promoting height growth through weight loss is a viable strategy primarily during the formative years of one's life, encompassing childhood through puberty. Why, you might ask? Well, this is because once the growth plates within your bones have undergone fusion or complete closure, the possibility of gaining additional height naturally diminishes. Consequently, to optimize the conditions conducive to achieving your fullest height potential, it is imperative to uphold a healthy weight from childhood through adolescence

As an adult, the height gain due to weight loss should be measured in millimeters rather than inches. But it is not entirely hopeless for you. In fact, a person with a slim body tends to appear taller than their true height. This is the same as the optical illusion of vertical stripes that make you taller even if you are not.

It is crucial to note that gaining height should not be your only motivation to lose weight if you are obese or overweight. Even the slightest weight loss can bring about profound benefits for your overall health and body. By losing from 5 to 10 percent of your weight, you are able to have better control of your blood sugar, cut down on cholesterol levels, and reduce your blood pressure. You can also minimize the pressure put on your vital organs, reduce your risks of certain types of cancer along with diabetes. According to research, your longevity can also be increased, too [2]. Long story short, losing weight means that you take back a part of your life and enjoy your life better.

What’s the ideal weight for my height then?

As you delve into this article, you might find yourself pondering this very question. It's a deceptively simple yet perplexing query, as human development and growth follow diverse trajectories.

It's entirely normal for two individuals to share the same height while sporting different weights. Puberty ushers in its transformations at distinct junctures for each person. While some youngsters may not experience growth spurts until the age of 14, others begin their ascent as early as 8. During this pivotal phase, a symphony of hormones orchestrates the dramatic growth of muscles, particularly in boys, weight fluctuations, and bursts in height. These physical metamorphoses, divergent between genders and among individuals, reflect the uniqueness of each person's journey. Furthermore, body types vary significantly, ranging from slender individuals with petite frames to those who are broad-shouldered and muscular.

Given these complexities, it becomes evident that prescribing a specific numerical value for the ideal weight corresponding to your height and age is an exercise in futility. However, you can gauge whether you fall within a healthy weight range by employing the Body Mass Index (BMI), a widely recognized measure of body composition

The weight fluctuations experienced by adolescents are multifaceted, making it imperative for healthcare professionals to employ a more nuanced approach in assessing the health of a teenager's weight. Relying solely on weight as a metric is insufficient. Instead, doctors turn to the Body Mass Index (BMI), a measurement that considers both weight and height to gauge the amount of body fat in an individual. Subsequently, this BMI value is plotted on a percentile chart designed for the specific age and gender of the teenager in question. For instance, if a teenager's BMI falls within the 70th percentile, it signifies that their BMI is higher than 70% of their peers of the same age and gender. This method offers a more comprehensive and accurate assessment of a teenager's weight status

If your BMI number is:

  • Below the 5th percentile, you are underweight for your gender, height, and age.

  • Between the 5th percentile and 85th percentile, you have a healthy weight for your gender, height, and age.

  • Greater than the 85th percentile but lower than the 95th percentile, you are overweight for your gender, height, and age.

  • Equal to or greater than the 95th percentile, you are obese for your gender, height, and age [3].

Instead of focusing on a single number, you should look at the BMI numbers as a trend. The reason is you can have the wrong impression of your development and growth if taking any measurement out of context.

Is weight hereditary?

Genetics wields a significant influence over both your weight and body shape, shaping them in a familial pattern. It's not uncommon for weight and body composition traits to be passed down through generations, resulting in similarities among family members.

Surprisingly, even your physical activity levels and dietary preferences tend to follow this hereditary trend [3]. If your family has a penchant for minimal physical activity or indulgence in snacks and high-fat foods, you may find yourself unwittingly mirroring these habits.

It is of paramount importance to acknowledge that genetics alone do not dictate your potential for growth in height. You wield the ability to reshape these outcomes through deliberate lifestyle changes. Even seemingly minor modifications, such as choosing the stairs over the elevator or infusing your diet with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, hold the potential to exert a profound impact on your overall health and vitality. Irrespective of the genetic hand you've been dealt, the maintenance of a well-rounded diet and a commitment to daily physical activity are poised to be instrumental in cultivating a healthy stature and weight that align with your age and gender.

In essence, the journey towards achieving a taller stature is not solely a genetic lottery, but rather a harmonious interplay between genetics and lifestyle choices. By conscientiously steering these choices towards a health-oriented direction, you can significantly enhance your prospects for growth and well-being, transcending the limitations imposed by your genetic blueprint. Embrace the empowerment that comes with knowing you have the capacity to shape your own destiny in the realm of height and overall health.

SOURCES

1. How obesity affects height growth of growing children and teenagers.

2. Study on height gain after losing weight.

3. What does BMI tell us?

RELATED ARTICLES

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *