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Love, hope, and happiness help children grow taller

A recent study claims that a child’s emotional well-being is crucial for their physical development. The research suggests that children don’t just require proper genetics, diet, or exercise to grow tall – they also need the psychological support of love, hope, and happiness

The implications of this research extend far beyond individual households, suggesting that societal well-being and stability can have direct impacts on the physical stature of its citizens.

The toxicity of emotional stress

Professor Barry Bogin, a biological anthropologist from Loughborough University, has been exploring human growth for almost fifty years. He recently shed light on the detrimental effects of feeling unloved and hopeless on young individuals. 

Professor Bogin says that such emotions culminate in “toxic emotional stress” which not only harms the body but also interferes with essential hormones required for growth and height.

Social and emotional attachments 

“The human species requires strong social and emotional attachments, that is love, between younger and older people and indeed between people of all ages,” said Professor Bogin.

“These attachments are required to promote nearly all biological functions, such as food digestion and absorption into the body, a good immune system, and an overall happiness and positive outlook on life.”

Height and societal well-being

To further illustrate his point, Professor Bogin compared the average heights of people in two contrasting nations: Guatemala and the Netherlands. 

In Guatemala, where residents frequently experience political unrest, uncertainty, and exposure to violence, the average height for men is 163cm (5’4), and 149cm for women. 

Conversely, in the Netherlands, which prides itself on policies that bolster the social care and security of its citizens, men stand at an average of 183cm (6 feet) and women at 169cm.

Economic impacts on growth

Professor Bogin didn’t just rely on present-day comparisons. He also used historical records to examine height data from the 1800s through the 1990s. 

He highlighted the impact of the Long Depression, which spanned from 1873 to 1879. This economic downturn had discernible effects on the average height of men in the US and the UK.

However, Professor Bogin noted that other periods of global crisis, such as the Great Depression of the 1930s as well as the First and the Second World War did not have a similar impact on height, possibly because the UK and US governments put “massive public works programs that put people to work.”

“They didn’t make a lot of money but having a job and a livelihood is essential to self-esteem, and hope for the future. So I think there was an enlightened attitude towards those governments,” he said. 

The research suggests that societal structures, economic stability, and emotional wellness play a pivotal role in the physical development of future generations.


The biology of growing taller


Height is a combination of genetics, nutrition, and overall health. While there’s a limit to how much one can influence their height, it’s essential to focus on overall health, well-being, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle for optimal growth during the growing years.

Growth plates

These are areas of cartilage located at the ends of our long bones. As we grow, these plates are responsible for bone elongation. Once we reach a certain age, these plates close, and our bones can no longer grow in length.

Human growth hormone (HGH)

Produced by the pituitary gland, HGH is crucial for growth. It helps in cell regeneration and growth of bones and muscles.

Factors influencing height


The height of our family members plays a significant role in determining our potential stature.


Proper nutrition, particularly during the growth spurts of childhood and adolescence, can optimize height. This includes sufficient intake of proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

Physical activity

Regular exercise, especially activities that involve jumping or stretching (like basketball or swimming), can stimulate the release of growth hormone and support healthy bone development.


During deep sleep, the body releases growth hormone, which is why adequate sleep is essential, especially during teenage years.

The study is published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology.

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