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  #1  
Old 08-25-2011, 08:30 AM
anon11 anon11 is offline
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What factors affect height?

I am 6 ft 3. This is three inches bigger then any relatives. I am a lifelong vegetarian. I was fairly active when I was young and well fed. Why am I taller then my family?

I have read about growth hormones in meat, perhaps these hinder growth. I feel I am "stretched out" and have grew taller then expected. I am in my twenties, so I should have stopped now.

Last edited by anon11; 08-25-2011 at 08:32 AM..
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  #2  
Old 08-25-2011, 08:32 AM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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How tall were your grandparents and great grandparents?
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Old 08-25-2011, 08:34 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Genetics and nutrition. People are taller today cause they were fed better as children.
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Old 08-25-2011, 08:36 AM
anon11 anon11 is offline
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I don't know about great grandparents or all of my grandparents. They are all average five foot something.
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Old 08-25-2011, 09:01 AM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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Well we do not know your gender or your parents actual heights, so we are a bit limited in a specific response.

What we can say is that the average child of a mating is likely to be near the "mean parental height", which for males is: (Mom's height + 5 inches plus Dad's height)/2. For females it's Dad's height - 5 inches plus Mom's height)/2 The farther off the two parents heights are after the 5 inch correction the greater the spread around that average you can reasonably expect a child to grow to. Also the more variety in the extended family (some stealth genes from grandparents for example). And of course average is just average; any particular individual can be an outlier.

Being just 3 inches taller than your Mom for example is actually being shorter than her male equivalent, who is 2 inches taller than you. Gender matters here.

The United States and most of Western Europe saw an average rise in height for multiple generations as a result of improvements in basic childhood nutrition and healthcare; this rise has not been observed in the last few generations however.

It is unlikely that being a vegetarian has resulted in any significant increase in height. At least in women there is no difference found in end height based on being a lifelong vegetarian. Some studies however have show a possible height advantage, like 1/2 to 2 cm, associated with a vegetarian diet through childhood. (See here and here.) FWIW.

Last edited by DSeid; 08-25-2011 at 09:04 AM..
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Old 08-25-2011, 09:03 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is online now
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How tall are your father and mother? One way to predict the most likely adult height for a child is to average the height of their parents, then subtract 2.7" for a girl or add 2.7" inches for a boy. If, for instance, your father and mother are both six foot tall, that would mean (assuming that you're male) that your most likely expected height would be 6'2.7". That's only the most likely expected height though, and it wouldn't be hugely improbable for a child to be as much as six inches off from that most likely expected height.
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  #7  
Old 08-25-2011, 09:44 AM
anon11 anon11 is offline
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My mum is 5ft 9 and my dad is 5ft 10.

Last edited by anon11; 08-25-2011 at 09:44 AM..
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Old 08-25-2011, 09:48 AM
anon11 anon11 is offline
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Also, is the improved nutrition in part due to fortified foods? When did foods start being fortified?
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Old 08-25-2011, 09:57 AM
rhubarbarin rhubarbarin is offline
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Genetics, nutrition, stress on the growing body. And most especially, nutrition and stress during the major 'growth spurt' ages 11-14 or so, when the femurs do most of their growing. Leg length is the main factor in the height differences across populations and history - things like heavy labor, malnutrition, and childbearing in the early teens years are going to depress long bone growth and height a ton.

Genetics can be awfully unpredictable when it comes to height. My mom is a shorter lady (5'3"), my dad is 6'1". I followed the usual rule (I am 5'5" on the dot), but my sisters ended up 5'10" and 5'2". It's worth noting my mom is from a taller family (everyone is on the taller side, and of her mom and 4 sisters, none is shorter than 5'6"), which explains my tall sister, but not the unusual shortness of my mom and short sister. Also I had eating problems (along with severe emotional issues) which were severe enough to lead to 'failure to thrive' as a kid; and yet it didn't seem to depress my height significantly, and I even have longer legs for my height. Maybe if I had been a healthier child I would be much taller, who knows.
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Old 08-25-2011, 10:44 AM
anon11 anon11 is offline
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What about exercise? Does that play a role?
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Old 08-25-2011, 03:32 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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Originally Posted by anon11 View Post
My mum is 5ft 9 and my dad is 5ft 10.
Going over to the growth charts your mother is about 98%ile height for women. A male that percentile is about 6 foot 3 inches. You really are consistent with height on your mother's side.

No exercise is not much of a factor. And the health/nutritional effect on femur growth is actually very early in life. Don't know about the answer re food fortification.
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Old 08-25-2011, 03:46 PM
bump bump is offline
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Obviously there's a huge genetic component, but some of it may be dominant & recessive as well as sex-linked. There also may be mutations involved.

According to the "average your parents' heights and add 5 inches" for boys, I should be 5'7". Instead, both my brother and I are much closer to our father's height (6'3") at 6'1" each.

My wife's mother is fairly tall- like 5'10" and her dad is about the same height. Yet my wife's 6'2", and her sister is only like 5'7".

Our big question is whether our son will end up closer to my height, or if he'll stick to the average + 5 formula, which will make him at least 6'4".
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Old 08-25-2011, 04:35 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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My mother was about 5'5" and my father 5'10". I am 6'1". But, and this is an important but, my father grew without enough to eat. In fact, his legs were bowed and we think that was evidence of malnutrition. There could have been other factors.

Here is another possibility. This is a real anecdote. My mother's best friend when she was growing up. Her parents were about 5' and 5'6" (I never knew the mother, but the father taught in my HS and I did know him. The BF was over 6'. Moreover, she had a man's voice. She said that ordering bras over the phone was a real trip. She was quite a handsome woman, married a man who was about 6'6". They had a daughter who was maybe 5'7". She married a man of modest height (under 6', I would guess) and they had a daughter who was maybe 5'6". You can see that the woman was some sort of exception. Can you say "acromegaly"?

Anyway, I read somewhere that geneticists estimate that there at least 100 genes that contribute to height. So two relatively short people can easily have a tall offspring.
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Old 08-25-2011, 08:10 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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Again, the mean parental height tool is about predicting averages. And a wide variation in parental percentiles predicts a greater variation about the mean among the children ... on average. I tend to use it as saying that the likely range is between Mom and Dad's percentiles, on average in the middle. Not written in stone.
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Old 08-25-2011, 08:19 PM
isaiahrobinson isaiahrobinson is offline
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My impression is that for your regular child here in the West, height is pretty much 100% determined by genetics. As long as they're well-nourished and not doing some sort of heavy labor it's not going to make any difference whether they're vegetarians, whether they eat fortified foods or how much sport they play. I suspect studies would bear that out. Anyone have evidence supporting or disproving my suspicion?

Last edited by isaiahrobinson; 08-25-2011 at 08:20 PM..
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Old 08-25-2011, 08:56 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is online now
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O.K., so your father is 5'10" and your mother is 5'9". The average of their two heights is 5'9.5". The mostly likely estimate for their male child would thus be 6'0.2". You're 2.8" taller than that. There's nothing surprising about the fact that you're 6'3" then. There's no reason to think that environment particularly affected your height at all. Purely by the luck of the draw (since genetics is about randomly grabbing some of your mother's genes and some of your father's genes) you got some of the taller genes.
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Old 08-25-2011, 09:23 PM
Lacunae Matata Lacunae Matata is offline
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I know next to nothing about the science of genetics, but I know a lot about the "Heinz57" nature of families, especially given the Western Hemisphere's wildly diverse population. Sure, just looking at my parents' heights (5'5" & 6',) one might predict very average heights for their kids. However, I'm 5'9", my sister was 5'1", and my brother is 6'2.5". Our grandfathers were both average/tall for their generation (6'), but one grandmother was also 6', while the other was only 4'10". And the tall grandmother's father was practically a giant at 6'9".*

So I'd say that overall good nutrition, plus a good dollop of genetics probably played a bigger role in your adult height than whether you eschewed steak and bacon...

*Yeah, I know anecdotes aren't data. Just describing a situation in which genetics determined outcomes which might have surprised a casual observer. Kind of like when my two blond parents had 3 redheads - an outsider wouldn't have looked back a generation to see the redhaired Grandma, nor the Titian titan of a great-grandfather.
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  #18  
Old 08-25-2011, 11:33 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isaiahrobinson View Post
My impression is that for your regular child here in the West, height is pretty much 100% determined by genetics. As long as they're well-nourished and not doing some sort of heavy labor it's not going to make any difference whether they're vegetarians, whether they eat fortified foods or how much sport they play. I suspect studies would bear that out. Anyone have evidence supporting or disproving my suspicion?
See post#5.

One exception is based on altered prenatal environment, such as from placental insufficiency or poor prenatal nutrition leading to a child who is small for gestational age at birth (SGA). Typical middle class adequate nutrition from birth on is enough to place them at risk for obesity and they are at risk of metabolic syndrome at lower BMIs than more typically sized babies, but they will still typically end up an average of almost 4 cm shorter as adults. 10% of those with SGA will end up below the 3%ile without intervention (growth hormone works well for the group that does not have catch up growth by age two).

That said, other prenatal factors that lead one monozygotic twin to be larger at birth and during the first 6 months compared to its twin, may prime for later obesity risk in adolescence and young adulthood, but not for any difference in height.
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  #19  
Old 08-26-2011, 12:43 AM
GameHat GameHat is offline
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Originally Posted by anon11 View Post
I am 6 ft 3. This is three inches bigger then any relatives. I am a lifelong vegetarian. I was fairly active when I was young and well fed. Why am I taller then my family?
Hey, you're one of the lucky ones. I'm fully grown, and while not a bad height (6') I'm a full two inches shorter than my dad and three inches shorter than my little brother.

WTF happened?
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  #20  
Old 08-26-2011, 12:45 AM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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Originally Posted by bump View Post
Obviously there's a huge genetic component, but some of it may be dominant & recessive as well as sex-linked. There also may be mutations involved.

According to the "average your parents' heights and add 5 inches" for boys, I should be 5'7". Instead, both my brother and I are much closer to our father's height (6'3") at 6'1" each.
According to the formula for girls I should be around 5'7" too, but I'm not. Instead I'm shorter than both parents. In my case something when wrong when I was a toddler and I didn't gain any weight or grow at all for two years (possibly celiac disease, but I still haven't been tested) and something nutritional post-weaning is probably to blame because I was a big baby, over 8lbs and 22" at birth, but fell behind the other kids within a couple of years. Lil bro, on the other hand, at 5'11" is the height you'd expect given our parents' heights.
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  #21  
Old 08-26-2011, 01:04 AM
kenobi 65 kenobi 65 is offline
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Hey, you're one of the lucky ones. I'm fully grown, and while not a bad height (6') I'm a full two inches shorter than my dad and three inches shorter than my little brother.

WTF happened?
I can empathize. I'm 5' 10 1/2". My father is 6' 4", and my mother is 5' 9". Heck, my sister is 5' 10".

WTF happened, in my case, was recessive genes. My maternal grandmother was a just over 5' tall, with short arms and legs. I inherited her build -- as my aunt, who has the same sort of build, notes: "you're built like Yoda, too!"
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  #22  
Old 08-26-2011, 01:15 AM
alice_in_wonderland alice_in_wonderland is offline
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I'm like the OP only more so. According to the formula I should be 5'1" and I'm actually 5'8". I'm also at least 5 inches taller than any other female member of either side of my family.

Genetics is a funny, funny thing.
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  #23  
Old 08-26-2011, 06:25 AM
isaiahrobinson isaiahrobinson is offline
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Originally Posted by DSeid View Post
See post#5.

One exception is based on altered prenatal environment, such as from placental insufficiency or poor prenatal nutrition leading to a child who is small for gestational age at birth (SGA). Typical middle class adequate nutrition from birth on is enough to place them at risk for obesity and they are at risk of metabolic syndrome at lower BMIs than more typically sized babies, but they will still typically end up an average of almost 4 cm shorter as adults. 10% of those with SGA will end up below the 3%ile without intervention (growth hormone works well for the group that does not have catch up growth by age two).

That said, other prenatal factors that lead one monozygotic twin to be larger at birth and during the first 6 months compared to its twin, may prime for later obesity risk in adolescence and young adulthood, but not for any difference in height.
Ah, didn't see the studies you posted about vegetarianism the first time round. They do seem to support my guess. Even the studies that you say showed increased height associated with vegetarianism didn't seem to produce particularly significant results in that direction - the first one found the vegetarians were roughly 0.1 inches taller than they were expected to be? Even though it's only set over a one year period rather than the entire childhood, surely that's not statistically significant. The study's conclusion didn't mention it either. I think nowadays a child would have to be eating a pretty radically bad diet for it to noticeably affect their height.
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  #24  
Old 08-26-2011, 08:16 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Originally Posted by alice_in_wonderland View Post
I'm like the OP only more so. According to the formula I should be 5'1" and I'm actually 5'8". I'm also at least 5 inches taller than any other female member of either side of my family.

Genetics is a funny, funny thing.
Genetics is life's ultimate craps shoot.

Mia Farrow is 5'2" tall, while both her parents and all her brothers and sisters are tall. She thinks her stature is the result of having childhood polio.
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Old 08-26-2011, 09:20 AM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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Genetics is life's ultimate craps shoot.

Mia Farrow is 5'2" tall, while both her parents and all her brothers and sisters are tall. She thinks her stature is the result of having childhood polio.
Well yes. Just like craps over a large number subject to very good statistical modeling but poor at being to say with absolute confidence what will happen on a particular roll. On average 35 out 36 times you won't roll snakes eyes in craps over a large number of rolls, but any particular roll you can. The vast majority of the time a child will end up between their parents height percentiles, rarely too far outside that range, but any particular individual can be an outlier. Still, even not accounting for variation in parents' percentiles
Quote:
... 90% of children’s height SDS values fall within 1.5 SD of their mid-parental height SDS ... the mean diverence in parental heights is 14 cm. ... children’s heights are more accurately related to parental heights when the latter are adjusted for regression to the mean.
Actually a pretty poor study ... measuring at a prepubertal age, 8-9 yo, does not allow for the highly significant effect that early or late puberty has on end height and they ignored the variation in parental heights as a factor to analyze. But it is the only study I can find actually proving that the original "rule" by Tanner has empirical validity.
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Old 08-26-2011, 10:05 AM
rhubarbarin rhubarbarin is offline
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I have a friend who was very premature baby (only 1 lb at birth) who is 4'9" with a tiny frame, in an average-height and size family. Usually though it seems premature babies catch up in every area.
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  #27  
Old 08-27-2011, 03:13 AM
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Originally Posted by anon11 View Post
My mum is 5ft 9 and my dad is 5ft 10.
Wow. I could have written that exact same post, and I'm also 6'3. (Well, at least in clothing. I measure 6'2" at he doctor's office.)
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  #28  
Old 08-29-2011, 11:42 AM
anon11 anon11 is offline
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Originally Posted by DSeid View Post
Going over to the growth charts your mother is about 98%ile height for women. A male that percentile is about 6 foot 3 inches. You really are consistent with height on your mother's side.

No exercise is not much of a factor. And the health/nutritional effect on femur growth is actually very early in life.
What is percentile height? How early in life does nutrition have an influence? I ask because I was a very fussy child.

Thanks
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Old 08-29-2011, 12:06 PM
kenobi 65 kenobi 65 is offline
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What is percentile height?
"Percentile" means "what percent of the population do you outscore". If you're in the 98th percentile for height, it means that you're taller than 98% of the population.
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Old 08-29-2011, 04:54 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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"Percentile" means "what percent of the population do you outscore". If you're in the 98th percentile for height, it means that you're taller than 98% of the population.
To add, perhaps unnecessarily, for your gender. So like your Mom you are taller than 98% of others of your gender. You take after your Mom's side in height more than your Dad's.
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Old 08-30-2011, 08:20 AM
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Maybe you spent a lot of time sleeping. I think I've read it somewhere that an hgh is released during sleep.
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Old 08-30-2011, 09:39 AM
anon11 anon11 is offline
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No exercise is not much of a factor. And the health/nutritional effect on femur growth is actually very early in life. Don't know about the answer re food fortification.
How early in life does nutrition have an influence? I was a very fussy eater as a child.

Thanks
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  #33  
Old 08-30-2011, 02:40 PM
anon11 anon11 is offline
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bump
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  #34  
Old 08-30-2011, 03:03 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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How early in life does nutrition have an influence? I was a very fussy eater as a child.

Thanks
Well it's already been pretty much answered. Malnutrition and poor health can have a signficant adverse influence, and the secular trends to increased height up until the 50's were a reflection of improvements in those realms, but given a basic modern American diet and health care, being a fussy eater not likely.
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Old 08-30-2011, 03:05 PM
anon11 anon11 is offline
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thanks. At what age is nutrition important?
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Old 08-30-2011, 06:38 PM
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The earlier the more the potential impact. See post #18 for the impact of the prenatal equivalent of poor nutrition, placental insufficiency, on growth. A fetus not getting adequate nutrition, because the placenta cannot deliver it, will be born smaller than expected for how far along in pregnancy they are. IOW if full term they will be the size of a premie and if premature the size of a much younger premie. And there are significant lasting effects on future growth and metabolism from that circumstance.
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Old 09-10-2011, 04:14 AM
anon11 anon11 is offline
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I am a twin though. So you would think I got less nutrition, in the pre-natal stage, as it had to be shared. My twin is 1 inch taller btw.

Last edited by anon11; 09-10-2011 at 04:15 AM..
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  #38  
Old 09-10-2011, 06:23 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is online now
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anon11, there is no reason to think that there is anything environmental which is making you (or your twin) significantly taller than might be expected from your genetic background. You're slightly taller than might be expected on average from that genetic background, but you're well within the normal spread of heights. Don't worry so much. Also, it's no big deal if you're still growing a little bit in your early twenties. That happens occasionally. Mention it to your family doctor next time you see him. There are occasionally certain rare medical conditions that could be indicated by growth as an adult.
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  #39  
Old 09-10-2011, 08:37 AM
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I am 5'8", i.e. quite ordinary, but I am 3" taller than the next tallest in my family who range from 5'5" down to 4'11". I am nowhere near being a vegetarian. In fact I have always been a 'fussy' eater and it is probably fair to say I have the worst diet of my family. The only reasonable conclusion I think you can draw from this is that it is dangerous to assign too much significance to a single outlier datum, especially when that outlier is oneself.
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Old 10-20-2011, 04:37 AM
anon11 anon11 is offline
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Okay, last post on this topic.

I still find it strange that my twin is the same height as me, considering we are nonidentical. Does this mean we grabbed the same genes? Is it because we grew up with the same diet and environment?

I also wonder if a child that is fed multivitamins every day would grow taller.
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Old 10-20-2011, 09:53 AM
anon11 anon11 is offline
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Old 10-20-2011, 10:05 AM
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Not sure why you find it odd. Siblings are sometimes the same height. Yes, you both got more of the height genes from Mom's side. Both of you had adequate nutrition. No, extra vitamins do not cause more height.

Are you worried that perhaps Mom had an affair with a basketball player?
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Old 10-20-2011, 10:41 AM
anon11 anon11 is offline
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I guess it isn't strange really. So, if one person drinks one glass of milk throughout childhood and another two pints, there will be no difference? Except maybe one will have stronger bones and teeth?

Last edited by anon11; 10-20-2011 at 10:41 AM..
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  #44  
Old 10-20-2011, 02:49 PM
anon11 anon11 is offline
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Bump. Sorry for the inane question that I find myself curious about.
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  #45  
Old 10-21-2011, 02:15 PM
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My husband's father is about 6' while his mom is 5'10". SpouseO is 6'6" and most decidedly not a vegetarian. Maybe you shoulda eaten more meat; you'd be taller too.
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