Asian people have traditionally been healthier and shorter. Technically, it has a lot to do with our diets and lifestyles. Especially in the past, Asians didn’t exactly have access to certain nutrients in certain cultures. Since we have gotten more regular access, we have gotten taller. However, at 5’6 1/2, I am tall compared to my counterparts. It’s depressing and great at the same time, considering I’m always short in the US and European countries. However, being short may not be as bad as it seems sometimes.
It’s not just Asians who tend to be shorter when you see them at older ages. White people who live longer tend to be shorter too. It is partly associated with osteoporosis and shrinking bones, but most were short in the first place. You can only shrink so much.
Studies seem to go both ways, but short people are winning overall. Japanese women seem to have the longest average lifespan at 86, and diet aside, the average height between 75 and 79 is 149.54 cm (58.87 inches). Some say that our lifespans have expanded as we have gotten taller. Realistically though, we haven’t actually gotten that much taller lately, and our increases in height are related to less malnutrition. You also can’t discount the fact that our medical care is obviously superior to what it used to be, if you haven’t noticed.
Interestingly enough though, stress correlates with shorter statures. This would tell some of us that short people must live longer. For example, during mass unemployment, people tended to be shorter. Again though, this could be related to temporary malnutrition during significant growth spurts. This could be fixed later on, and people could again adopt healthy lifestyles and diets to sustain later life.
So who wins in the long run?
Those with primordial dwarfism will face a lot of health issues. They have an average height of under 40 inches, and while rare, this can be extremely destructive. It is a recessive gene. Likewise, those with giantism or a tumor on their pituitary gland (releasing more HGH) are likely to have heart and other health problems with a shorter life span. In other words, you’re not going to do well if you’re sitting on either extreme.
The Methuselah Gene
The actual connection between height and life may not be as clear cut as many would like to think. Neither short or tall people are likely to live longer just because of that. In some cases though, there is something called the methuselah gene. It is a rare genetic mutation that decreases the cell’s use of IGF-1. These people are smaller and live longer based on this more efficient use of this gene. There are other things that have a much bigger effect though.
Determining Factors for a Long Lifespan
People who live longer generally have better genes, lifestyle choices, birth weight, early childhood care, nutrition, vaccinations, antibiotics, and a higher income. Generally speaking, middle class is fine. In other words, overall quality of life is the biggest determining factor when it comes to a longer lifespan. Those raised under these positive conditions had a lower rate of chronic disease, fewer colds and flus, and less stress in general.
In other words, even as fetuses, their mothers underwent less stress, making them healthier and more resilient later on. Those who were alive or born during times of struggle and starvation were more likely to experience chronic disease later in life, and they were less likely to even reach middle age.
If you’re tall, you don’t have to worry about being automatically screwed. Likewise, if you’re short, I wouldn’t recommend just assuming you’ll be okay. There are no guarantees. However, if you live a healthy lifestyle and do your best to keep stress low, you have a good bet.