Body height among adult male and female Swiss Health Survey participants in 2017: Trends by birth years and associations with self-reported health status and life satisfaction

Prev Med Rep. 2022 Sep 12;29:101980. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2022.101980. eCollection 2022 Oct.


The increase in adult height for 150 years is linked to overall improvements in nutrition, hygiene, and living standards. Height is positively associated with general health and success on various levels (e.g. quality of life, earnings or happiness). The aim of this study was to investigate whether different subgroups show different trends across birth cohorts. We wanted to know whether taller individuals considered themselves as healthier and their quality of life as better than shorter individuals. We included 19,435 participants from the Swiss population-based Health Survey 2017. GAM were used to assess nonlinear associations between height and birth year. Multinomial logistic regression was used to predict probabilities of self-rated health in relation to height. The increase in average height slows down from the 1970s birth cohorts. Participants with parents from Central/Northern/Western Europe (men 177.9 cm, women: 165.1 cm) or Eastern Europe (men 178.7 cm, women: 165.7 cm) were taller than participants with parents from South America (men 174.3 cm, women: 161. cm) and Asia (men 173.2 cm, women: 160.1 cm). Participants with tertiary education were taller than participants from education levels (mean difference men: 4.5 cm, women: 5.0 cm). Height was positively associated with self-declared aspects of health and life satisfaction. These results support the conclusion that body height as a co-factor of health aspects should be considered in public health research. Although adult body height can no longer be influenced, nutritional status and thus also healthy growth can be influenced in childhood by public health programs, by eliminating social inequalities, and by strengthen healthy living conditions.

Keywords: Health; Stature; Trend.