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Poor Shaq et al


In his book Do Penguins Have Knees? (1991), David Feldman raises this "Frustable": Why don't you ever see really tall old people?

This question interests me, in that I am over 6'3" and my son is 6'7"....I wonder, what is our fate?

An article in Men's Health, using research results from an Ohio study, suggests that men lose 1.2 years of life for every extra inch in height. This means that I can expect to live six years less than a man who is 5'10" tall. Scary...especially when knowing that a person who is 5'8" can expect to live until age 82!

But, think of Robert Wadlow, the tallest known man at a height of 8'11". Unfortunately, he died at age 22 years.

Or, consider the many tall basketball players: Gheorghe Muresan (7'7"), Manute Bol (7'7"), or Yao Ming (7'6"). What are their age prospects?

Your Task: Conduct a study to investigate this claim...using data from your local area? And, add the notion of varying weight as another factor.


Note: Searching the internet will produce multiple sources of data for larger populations. For example, a Sumaras & Storms study concluded: "In 1990, a study of 1679 decreased men and women from the general American population supported these findings. In the present study data on the height, weight, and age at death of 373 men were obtained from records at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, San Diego, CA, USA. Men of height 175.3 cm or less lived an average of 4.95 years longer than those of height over 175.3 cm, while men of height 170.2 cm or less lived 7.46 years longer than those of at least 182.9 cm. An analysis by weight difference revealed a 7.72-year greater longevity for men of weight 63.6 kg or less compared with those of 90.9 kg or more. This corroborates earlier evidence and contradicts the popular notion that taller people are healthier. While short stature due to malnutrition or illness is undesirable, our study suggests that feeding children for maximum growth and physical development may not add to and may indeed be harmful to their long-term health and longevity."

Source: Adapted from D. Feldman's A World of Imponderables, 1992, pp. 530.