Aging Causes Height To Decrease

In a paper in the American Journal of Epidemiology which was published in 1999, a study was done to see the trend of height decrease among a group of individuals through time. The paper was written by Dr. John D. Sorkin of the Intramural Research Program at the National Institute on Aging.

Here is the abstract

” Age differences in height derived from cross-sectional studies can be the result of differential secular influences among the age cohorts. To determine the magnitude of height loss that accompanies aging, longitudinal studies are required. The authors studied 2,084 men and women aged 17–94 years enrolled from 1958 to 1993 in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, Baltimore, Maryland. On average, men’s height was measured nine times during 15 years and women’s height five times during 9 years. The rate of decrease in height was greater for women than for men. For both sexes, height loss began at about age 30 years and accelerated with increasing age. Cumulative height loss from age 30 to 70 years averaged about 3 cm for men and 5 cm for women; by age 80 years, it increased to 5 cm for men and 8 cm for women. This degree of height loss would account for an “artifactual” increase in body mass index of approximately 0.7 kg/m2 for men and 1.6 kg/m2 for women by age 70 years that increases to 1.4 and 2.6 kg/m2, respectively, by age 80 years. True height loss with aging must be taken into account when height (or indexes based on height) is used in physiologic or clinical studies. Am J Epidemiol 1999;150:969-77. ”

It would appear that the article shows that as we age, our height is decreased because our bones lose both their density and size from shrinkage. In addition, the little gel-like discs in the back get more and more compressed with time, thereby making people shorter. Between the ages of 30 and 70, men can lose up to 3 cm of height while for women they can lose even more, up to 5 cm in total height  loss. After passing the age of 80, people’s height can go through an accelerated rate of decrease. However the article reports that any sign of large shrink rate may indicate certain health problems. The health problems are often related to the density of the bones, make them easy to crack and break.

To help decrease the rate of height lose the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recommends avoiding smoking cigarettes, drinking caffeine or alcohol, taking steroids and extreme dietin. To offset it further,  get adequate vitamin D and calcium and exercise regularly

The study’s results and implications are mentioned and discussed from this Reference Link. The original journal entry article was found from this Reference Link.

If you wanted to get  PDF copy of the complete article, click HERE.



2 thoughts on “Aging Causes Height To Decrease

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