Azara Blog: Apparently short people feel less healthy

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Date published: 2007/10/20

The BBC says:

Short people complain of poorer mental and physical health than those of average height, a study reveals.

Danish researchers examined more than 14,000 responses to the 2003 Health Survey for England.

Men shorter than 5ft 4in (162cm) and women shorter than 5ft (151cm) reported much lower well-being than others, Clinical Endocrinology journal says.

The authors urged more work to clarify precisely why the shorter someone is, the worse they feel about their health.

The results predicted that increasing height could help boost feelings of wellbeing.

If men could add just 7cm (2.7in) to their height and women 6cm (2.3in), their health-related quality of life could be improved by 6.1%.

This is an equivalent improvement to an obese person losing 10-15kg (22-33lb).

However, the study did not ascertain how healthy the individuals actually were.

It's unbelievable that anyone could do such a study without considering "how healthy the individuals actually were", it makes the study all but worthless.

And you have to wonder which reporter wrote the immortal words "if men could just add 7cm to their height...", and then compares this to losing weight. Hmmm, apparently the BBC believes people can choose to be tall or not. Of course what they meant to write was that "for every 7cm additional height for men, and 6cm for women, some random quality of life measure improves by 6.1%". (But presumably only for some narrow range of heights, something the BBC fails to mention. Being 2.5m tall is probably not very conducive to good health.) The way the BBC has written this the statement is silly, but if for some reason it was not silly and people could change their height, it would instead be a classic confusion between correlation and causation.

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