Does your weight affect your height growth?

April 18, 2021 | By NuBest
Most of us already knew that there is a kind of connection between height and weight. This understandably results in such questions as whether being overweight makes a person short or if losing weight can add some inches to their height. The truth is, if you are only a few pounds overweight, your height would not see noticeable changes once you lose those pounds. On the contrary, losing a significant amount of weight can have positive effects on your height growth in more ways than one. The science behind the correlation between weight and height growth is fascinating, too. Before you start your journey of losing weight to gain some height, let’s find out how that is possible.

Science or myth?

It is common knowledge that excess fat is not good for your overall health. In fact, being overweight can easily lead to obesity, which is associated with a higher risk of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases as well as other health issues. But what about your height? Is it true that overweight people are shorter than their normal-weight counterparts?

This interesting subject caught the attention of not only the public but also the scholarly world. In fact, multiple studies have been conducted to figure out whether a person’s weight has anything to do with their height. It turned out that YES, your weight can affect your height growth to a considerable extent. Specifically, taking into account the race, ethnicity, and age of participants, research has shown a significant influence of obesity status on the height growth of both males and females. Obese or overweight young adults experience less growth in height during their growing years, especially adolescence, in comparison with normal-weight young adults [1].

So, does this mean losing weight will increase height?

Good news for you! If you find yourself in the obese category, then losing a remarkable amount of weight may actually help.

A scientific study in 2012 attempted to document the changes in height after weight reduction of the body’s intervertebral discs among obese patients. The results revealed that your disc height is significantly restored after weight loss. The researchers also found an increase by 2 mm in a single intervertebral disc [2].

What we can defer from this evidence is that when a person is overweight or obese, their spine has to support more weight. As you lose those extra pounds, you reduce the compression on your spine, thereby allowing you to stand taller than before. What is more, the excess weight also puts pressure on your joints, particularly the knees. Let’s consider this analogy. Imagine you sit on a pillow, it would sink a bit. But if you and your friends sit on the same pillow at once, it would sink even more because of the additional weight. This is how being overweight affects your joints. Hence, a marked reduction in weight can lead to less compression in your overall body and taller stature.

Nonetheless...

Losing weight to get taller is only practical when you are in your growing years, i.e. from childhood to puberty. Why? Because once your growth plates have fused or closed completely, your bones cannot grow in length and you cannot increase your height naturally anymore. Therefore, to facilitate favorable conditions for height growth, you should maintain a healthy weight throughout childhood and adolescence to achieve your maximum potential height.

As an adult, the height gain due to weight loss should be measured in millimeters rather than inches. But it is not entirely hopeless for you. In fact, a person with a slim body tends to appear taller than their true height. This is the same as the optical illusion of vertical stripes that make you taller even if you are not.

It is crucial to note that gaining height should not be your only motivation to lose weight if you are obese or overweight. Even the slightest weight loss can bring about profound benefits for your overall health and body. By losing from 5 to 10 percent of your weight, you are able to have better control of your blood sugar, cut down on cholesterol levels, and reduce your blood pressure. You can also minimize the pressure put on your vital organs, reduce your risks of certain types of cancer along with diabetes. According to research, your longevity can also be increased, too [2]. Long story short, losing weight means that you take back a part of your life and enjoy your life better.

What’s the ideal weight for my height then?

At this point in the article, you would probably be asking yourself this. It is, to be honest, a simple yet tricky question because not everyone develops and grows in the same pattern.

It is not abnormal for two people to have different weights but the same height. Puberty hits at different times for different people, and while some kids might not go through growth spurts until 14 years of age, others start shooting up as early as age 8. During puberty, your body produces a variety of hormones that cause conspicuous growth of muscle (especially among boys), weight gain, and spurts in height. These physical changes vary between boys and girls as well as among individuals. Moreover, not everyone has the same body type. For instance, some people are slimmer with smaller frames whereas others are large-framed and muscular.

For these reasons, it is impossible to establish a specific number for ideal weight for your height and age. Yet, you can determine whether you are in a healthy weight range with the body mass index, more commonly known as BMI.

The weight gain patterns of teenagers are more complicated; as a result, to determine whether a teen’s weight is healthy or not, doctors cannot depend on weight alone. They need to use BMI as it calculates the amount of body fat using the weight and height measurements of a person. Doctors then plot this BMI number on a BMI chart with defined percentiles to compare the result with others of the same age and gender. If a teenager, for example, has a BMI in the 70th percentile, it means 70% of teenagers of the same age and gender have a lower BMI.

If your BMI number is:

  • Below the 5th percentile, you are underweight for your gender, height, and age.

  • Between the 5th percentile and 85th percentile, you have a healthy weight for your gender, height, and age.

  • Greater than the 85th percentile but lower than the 95th percentile, you are overweight for your gender, height, and age.

  • Equal to or greater than the 95th percentile, you are obese for your gender, height, and age [3].

Instead of focusing on a single number, you should look at the BMI numbers as a trend. The reason is you can have the wrong impression of your development and growth if taking any measurement out of context.

Is weight hereditary?

Genetics is undoubtedly influential upon how much you weigh and what your body shape is like. Weight and body shape normally run in families. You and your family members may share similar body composition and body types.

Physical activity and eating habits, believe it or not, are also passed down from generation to generation as well [3]. You may end up doing minimum physical activity or savoring a lot of snacks and high-fat foods if your family does the same.

But genes are not everything. You can totally change these habits for the better. Even a small change such as taking the stairs or eating more fruits and vegetables is beneficial to your health and well-being. Whatever it is written in your genes, by having a balanced diet and being active every day, you will definitely maintain a healthy height and weight for your age and gender.
 

SOURCES

 

(*) All pictures shown are for illustration purpose only.
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THE ABOVE INFORMATION IS FOR REFERENCE ONLY and shall not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or starting any medication or treatment without discussing it with a qualified health professional.