Impact of height and weight on life span

Bull World Health Organ. 1992;70(2):259-67.

Abstract

The study was conducted to evaluate one aspect of the entropy theory of aging, which hypothesizes that aging is the result of increasing disorder within the body, and which predicts that increasing mass lowers life span. The first evaluation of the impact of human size on longevity or life span in 1978, which was based on data for decreased groups of athletes and famous people in the USA, suggested that shorter, lighter men live longer than their taller, heavier counterparts. In 1990, a study of 1679 decreased men and women from the general American population supported these findings. In the present study data on the height, weight, and age at death of 373 men were obtained from records at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, San Diego, CA, USA. Men of height 175.3 cm or less lived an average of 4.95 years longer than those of height over 175.3 cm, while men of height 170.2 cm or less lived 7.46 years longer than those of at least 182.9 cm. An analysis by weight difference revealed a 7.72-year greater longevity for men of weight 63.6 kg or less compared with those of 90.9 kg or more. This corroborates earlier evidence and contradicts the popular notion that taller people are healthier. While short stature due to malnutrition or illness is undesirable, our study suggests that feeding children for maximum growth and physical development may not add to and may indeed be harmful to their long-term health and longevity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Baseball / statistics & numerical data
  • Body Composition
  • Body Constitution
  • Body Height*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Ethnicity
  • Hospitals, Veterans
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy
  • Longevity*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged