British women walking taller

figure_measure_1600_wht_5484Scientists have found that British women have grown taller faster than most of the rest of the world.

British women now average 5′ 5″ (164.4 cm) compared to 5′ (153.4 cm) at the start of the century.

This pushes them up the world league table of the tallest from 57th place in 1914 to 38th place today.

British men have grown to 5′ 10″ (178 cm), up 10.6 cm, and have moved up from 36th to 31st place.

Who are the tallest?

Latvian women are the tallest and  average 5′ 7″ (170 cm)

Dutch men are the tallest at 6′ (183 cm)

Who are the shortest?

Men from East Timor and the Yemen at 5′ 3″ (160 cm), Laos (161 cm), Madagascar and Malawi (both 5′ 4″ or 162 cm).

Women from Guatemala at 4′ 11″ (149 cm), the Philippines  (150 cm), and Bangladesh, Nepal and East Timor (all 151 cm).

The researchers compared data from people who were 18 in 914 with those of the same age in 2014. The difference is partly genetic and partly due to nutrition, sanitation, and health. Particularly important is the mother’s health and nutrition during pregnancy.

Height is a mirror to our social environment” said Professor Majid Ezzati from the School of Public Health at Imperial College.

The biggest increases have been in rapidly developing countries such as Japan and South Korea where women are now 8″ (20 cm) taller than before WW11. Iranian men have grown by the same amount.

Americans have grown by 5cm over the review period but have dropped down the league tables from 3rd for men and 4th for women in 1914 to 37th and 42nd place respectively. This was probably connected to their obesity problem – lots of calories but not good nutrition – said Professor Ezzati.

In sub-Saharan Africa people are actually getting smaller.

Tall people tend to have a longer life expectancy, with a reduced risk of heart disease. On the other hand, there is some evidence that they are at greater risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal, postmenopausal breast and ovarian cancers.

One hypothesis is that growth factors may promote mutated cells,” said another Imperial co-author, Elio Riboli.

I’m always a bit bemused by stories like this about average height because I come from a tall family and am used to being around tall people. 6′ (183 cm) doesn’t seem tall to me yet it’s taller than the average British male.

And being tall does have some advantages at work.

League table showing top 10 from 187 countries surveyed

The nations with the tallest men in 2014 (1914 ranking in brackets):

  1. Netherlands (12)
  2. Belgium (33)
  3. Estonia (4)
  4. Latvia (13)
  5. Denmark (9)
  6. Bosnia and Herzegovina (19)
  7. Croatia (22)
  8. Serbia (30)
  9. Iceland (6)
  10. Czech Republic (24)

The nations with the tallest women in 2014 (1914 ranking in brackets):

  1. Latvia (28)
  2. Netherlands (38)
  3. Estonia (16)
  4. Czech Republic (69)
  5. Serbia (93)
  6. Slovakia (26)
  7. Denmark (11)
  8. Lithuania (41)
  9. Belarus (42)
  10. Ukraine (43)

Source: eLife

Men would rather have an electric shock

than spend 15 minutes alone with their thoughts.

light_bulb_brain_electricity_500_wht_13957According to research at the University of Virginia. The researchers believe that the human brain has evolved to be active and that makes it difficult for people to switch off.

Some people blame smartphones and social media. A neuroscientist at the University of York said “during the Industrial Revolution people with mundane jobs could daydream, now they can get on the phone instead”. People might be averse to being left alone because they start to ruminate, which can become negative.

In the experiments reported in Science journal participants were asked to to sit alone for 15 minutes in an empty room. Most reported that they didn’t like the experience. They also found it difficult to do the same thing at home with 1/3 cheating by listening to music or using a mobile phone.

In another experiment participants were given the option of having a mild electric shock (which they had previously said they would pay to avoid after experiencing it).

Out of 18 men 12 gave themselves electric shocks during the 15 minute “thinking” period compared to 6 out of 24 women. The experimenters thought it showed men were more sensation-seking than women.

Or as Professor Richard Wiseman observed, they might just be bored!


Men – you can’t afford to skip breakfast!

hungry_man_pc_1600_wht_1282Men who skip breakfasts are at greater risk of heart attacks.

A study of 27,000 males aged between 45  and 82 over a 16-year period from 1992 found that those who regularly skipped breakfast had a 27% higher risk of a heart attack or death from coronary heart disease (CHD) than those who ate breakfast, after taking into account other factors such as weight, exercise, work stress and diet.

The study, by nutrition scientists at Harvard School of Public Health, found that skipping breakfast can lead to one or more risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes – which in turn may lead to a heart attack.

Not everyone agreed as some men who skipped breakfasts were also more likely to smoke, be employed full-time, be unmarried, less physically active and heavier drinkers of alcohol. Many of these factors are also indicators of poor health outcomes. And skipping breakfast leaves the body in a “fasting” state which temporarily raises blood pressure, and levels of insulin and cholesterol.

cardiogram_heart_working_500_wht_5747During the study almost 1,600 men had first-time cardiac events

The study appeared in The American Heart Association journal Circulation.

The British Heart Foundation recommends having breakfast to avoid the need to snack on biscuits mid-morning (although recent research suggests the opposite – se below).

They recommend whole-grain toast, or cereals like porridge with low fat milk although not everyone would agree with that as the current thinking is that full fat milk and butter isn’t necessarily bad for you.

Additives are often put in low fat products to make them taste OK. Personally I can’t see the attraction of skimmed milk – it looks like chalky water and has no taste.

And the latest research on breakfast suggests that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. You might want to rethink that King of meals tag.