Tallness versus shrinkage: Do women shrink with age or grow taller with recent birth date?

K. Michael Davies, Robert R. Recker, Mary Ruth Stegman, Robert P. Heaney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


This paper presents evidence that much of the high rate of age-related height loss in women reported in cross-sectional studies is actually a cohort effect rather than an aging effect. Data from a large cross-sectional study of healthy, white American women indicate that there has been a gain in peak adult height of 1.0 cm per decade for several decades from 1900 through 1965. Data from the HES, HANES I, and HANES II studies concur on this point. By contrast, data from a longitudinal study of 191 healthy white U.S. women show only a trivial rate of decline from peak adult height in the fifth and sixth decades of life. In an unselected population, some apparent height loss with age is probably due to disease processes, such as vertebral collapse. Caution is needed in using aging to interpret differences in height and in height-dependent variables, such as bone density, in cross-sectional studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1115-1120
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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