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Growing shorter: Adult health habits influence how much we shrink with age
Date:4/1/2013

rence when considering that overall average height loss for men is 3.3 cm. Completing high school meant an additional 1 cm less in shrinkage.

For women, having completed primary school was the difference in 0.6 cm of shrinkage, compared to average overall height decrease of 3.8 cm.

"Height has been recognized as an acceptable proxy for childhood health conditions, but there are complications there," says USC economist Geert Ridder, a co-investigator on the study. "Some of adult health might be determined by childhood circumstances, but people shrink differentially, and that shrinkage is also a measure of adult health conditions."

All humans go through physical changes with age, including an increase in body fat and decrease in bone mass. But a decrease in height can be further exacerbated by certain kinds of arthritis, inflammation of spine joints or osteoporosis, which other studies have shown are associated with such lifestyle choices as diet, exercise and smoking.

The researchers used new data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study, a groundbreaking sampling project led by USC economist Strauss, Yaohui Zhao of the China Center for Economic Research (CCER) at Peking University and Gonghuan Yang of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, that covers 150 counties randomly chosen throughout China.

The baseline for the survey was collected from June 2011 to March 2012 and includes both subjective self-reported responses to survey questions as well as objective physical measurements such as blood tests. These physical measurements and personal interviews will be followed-up with the same 17,708 people every two years capturing, for the first time, critical data about human aging in the most populous and most rapidly aging country in the world.

For example, recent changes in social security policy and health insurance in China provide a valuable opportunity for res
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Contact: Suzanne Wu
suzanne.wu@usc.edu
213-740-0252
University of Southern California
Source:Eurekalert

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