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Study Proves Height Is Directly Linked to Living Standards
New research has shown that people with better living standards grow taller. This conclusion was reached thanks to a study conducted by Professor Bernard Harris of the University of South Hampton. He also found that the natives of Scotland were taller than those of England 200 years ago, but are now significantly shorter. This shows the link between nutrition and economic development and height.
The study was published in a book called The Changing Body, which explores the links between economic development and nutrition on the continents of Europe and North America over the past 400 years. Two centuries ago, substantial differences in size existed between those of the working class and those considered upper class.
According to Harris, the work shows that there are dramatic changes in children’s health, as evidenced by adult height over the past century. This is proven by additional research from other groups that shows a strong link between a person’s health in childhood and their health as they age.
Harris also states that it proves that the health of modern children will play a central role in determining the economic status of future generations, as they show how health over time, life expectancy and economic performance are affected.
Dramatic differences were also illustrated between boys of different economic incomes in 19th century Europe. This included a comparison between poor boys in London and those attending the Royal Military Academy, with students attending colleges and army recruits, and the children of those from unskilled manual labor households and elite families in the Netherlands.
For example, a 14-year-old working-class child in the 1780s was 1.3m tall, while an upper-class child averaged 1.55m tall. As health services, sanitation, education and nutrition have become more readily available to all social classes, upper-class children are still growing taller, but more slowly, than working-class children. The average difference between the two classes was reduced to 2.06 m.
The research also showed height variations between different parts of Europe and the UK. Two hundred years ago, Scottish citizens were 2.3cm taller than those living in the south of England, and Norwegians had the smallest average height in Europe.
Modern male Scots average 1.73m, which is shorter than those living in the South East of England, who average 1.75m. Norwegians are now the second tallest people in Europe; only the Dutch grow naturally. Harris argues that since the South East’s food and sanitation methods are more efficient than Scotland’s, it illustrates the pattern of economic and social change over the past 200 years.
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