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Med Hypotheses. 2002 Feb;58(2):93-112.

Secular growth and its harmful ramifications.

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  • 1Reventropy Associates, San Diego, California 92124, USA.


Secular growth has been occurring in Europe for about 150 years. In the USA, since 1900, each new generation has increased by an average of 1in (2.54cm) in height and about 10lb (4.54kg) in weight. This trend has generally been viewed as favorable and tallness is admired, with the current ideal height for a man in the Western world being 6ft 2in (188cm). The Japanese have increased in height since the end of the Second World War by about 5in (12.7cm) in height and the Chinese have been growing at the rate of 2.54cm/decade since the 1950s. In spite of admiring greater height, a world population of increasing height and body-weight is a major threat to our environment, health and survival. Based on more than two decades of research, quantitative data are given for increased use of resources, and increased pollution, energy and fiscal costs resulting from a population of larger people. The laws of scaling are described to show why the impact of increasing stature has a non-linear impact on consumption, body-weight, strength, pollution and economic costs. Paleontological findings indicating that larger body size increases the risk of extinction are also discussed. Various studies indicate a loss of 0.47 year of longevity for each cm increment of height. Caloric restricted diets are also reviewed for their applicability to humans. Recommendations are made for dietary practices to moderate growth in our youth and to postpone development of chronic or degenerative diseases.

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