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How much does genetics influence our height?

06 Mar 2023
¿Cuánto influye la genética en nuestra estatura?

Height is a trait that has fascinated the human being for centuries, being one of the most visible and outstanding physical characteristics. It is common to hear phrases like "he has an enviable height" or "he is very short", but why are we a certain height and what can we do to influence it?

First of all, it is important to emphasize that genetics play a determining role in our final height. According to various scientific studies, 80% of our height is determined by our genetic inheritance. That is, the height of our parents, grandparents and close relatives is a key factor in predicting how tall we will be as adults. This is because the genetic information we inherit from our parents includes the genes responsible for bone and muscle growth.

However, genetics is not everything in determining our final height. Other external factors can influence our height to a greater or lesser extent. Some of these factors are:

  • Food: Nutrition is a key factor in the development of the human body. A diet rich in protein, vitamins and minerals promotes bone and muscle growth. Conversely, a nutrient-poor diet can slow growth and reduce final height. It is important to emphasize that adequate nutrition in childhood and adolescents is essential for optimal growth.
  • Physical exercise: Regular physical activity is important for a good state of health, but it can also influence our final height. Sports and physical activities that involve a greater impact on the joints, such as basketball or volleyball, can promote bone growth and increase height. On the contrary, a sedentary lifestyle or lack of exercise can slow down growth.
  • Diseases: Some diseases can affect growth and reduce final height. For example, celiac disease or Crohn's disease can interfere with the absorption of nutrients necessary for growth. On the other hand, diseases such as acromegaly (a hormonal disorder that causes excessive bone growth) can increase height.
  • Environmental factors: Climate and altitude can influence the height of people. For example, it has been observed that the inhabitants of higher areas tend to be shorter than those of coastal areas. This is because the low concentration of oxygen in high altitude areas hinders growth.

But who are the tallest individuals in the world? According to various studies, the tallest adults are found in northern European countries, such as the Netherlands or Latvia, with an average height of 1.75 metres. On the other hand, the shortest adults reside in East Timor, with an average height of 1.55 meters.

Although genetics is the main factor in determining our height, there are some ways to influence it. For example, eating a healthy and balanced diet can promote bone and muscle growth.


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