Chinese youth, at the age of 19, have experienced a remarkable increase in height over the course of 34 years (1985-2019). This growth rate is the fastest recorded among Chinese men globally and ranks third among Chinese women. In this article by Growtallerstrategy, we will explore the methods used to achieve such impressive results.
A height survey conducted in 1985 revealed that the average height of 19-year-old Chinese women was 158 cm, while their male counterparts stood at an average height of 167 cm. However, according to a report published in the medical journal Lancet, by 2019, the average height of 19-year-old Chinese men had increased to 175.7 cm, making them the fifth tallest in Asia and the tallest in East Asia. Chinese women, on the other hand, had an average height of 163.5 cm, which was the highest in the region.
Height holds significant importance in Chinese society. In her book “Factory Girls: Voices from the Heart of Modern China,” author Leslie T. Chang describes the Chinese preoccupation with height, stating, “Height is a common obsession among Chinese people. This country has endured years of malnutrition and famine, and being tall is seen as a representation of good fortune.”
Tall men are seen as symbols of strength, power, and authority. Their height lends credibility and weight to their words, embodying the values upheld by many generations of Chinese people. With this cultural mindset in place, various methods have been developed to increase height, combining elements of science, culture, and traditional medicine.
Regular milk consumption:
In many kindergartens in China, students are encouraged to drink milk daily to supplement their calcium and essential micro-mineral intake, which are beneficial for bone health and height growth. Milk has long been recognized as a nutritious beverage, providing a variety of nutrients that promote overall health and physical growth in children. Starting this habit from a young age has contributed to the impressive height growth rate among Chinese teenagers, resulting in a significant improvement in average height compared to previous generations.
In 2015, the National Health and Family Planning Commission conducted a survey on the Chinese diet, which revealed positive changes over a 10-year period (2002-2012). Children are now provided with a diverse range of nutrients, promoting healthy development, increased energy, comfortable movement, and an enhanced immune system. These factors create excellent conditions for optimal height growth and have contributed to the improvement in average height among Chinese adolescents.
Increased intake of calcium-rich foods:
The consumption of calcium-rich foods, including seafood, green vegetables, meat, and eggs, in China reached 30.75 million tons in 2018, a significant increase compared to previous decades. This demonstrates that the Chinese population has become more mindful of incorporating calcium-rich foods into their diets to support height growth. Calcium is a crucial component in the structure of the skeletal system, and its deficiency can lead to weak and poorly growing bones.
Reduced rate of malnutrition:
Economic growth has enabled Chinese parents to provide better nutrition for their children, leading to increased consumption of healthy foods and regular health check-ups. As a result, the rate of malnutrition among children in China has gradually decreased over the past four decades. During this same period, the average height of the Chinese population has seen a significant change. Controlling the rate of malnutrition has served as a solid foundation for children in the country to achieve better height growth and rank among the tallest in Asia.
Yao Ming, a Chinese basketball player who belongs to the tallest group of people in the world, has served as an inspiration for many Chinese children. They actively engage in basketball practice, aiming to attain a prominent height and gain confidence in life. Chinese parents have a great interest in basketball and are willing to invest in their children’s early involvement in the sport to promote height development. Regular basketball practice has played a significant role in helping many young individuals in China achieve good height, thereby contributing to the overall improvement in the average height of the Chinese population today.
Importance of sleep:
The sleep patterns of Chinese children receive more attention now compared to previous generations. Some proposed laws advocate for policies that would enable elementary school students to go to bed before 9 pm, and middle school students to go to bed before 10 pm, even if they have not completed their homework. These measures have garnered support from the government and many parents. There is a growing call to reduce the amount of homework for students and prevent them from becoming overly burdened with academic work. Adequate sleep, especially deep sleep, provides optimal conditions for the pituitary gland to produce growth hormones. Furthermore, it helps children feel relaxed, psychologically comfortable, and enhances their concentration and ability to absorb knowledge during school hours.
Leg lengthening surgery:
Concerned about limited height affecting their job prospects, many young Chinese individuals have turned to leg lengthening surgery, despite its associated health risks. This procedure involves cutting the femur in half and inserting a steel nail inside the bone tube to fix it. Patients then wait for the two bones to grow and heal together. Bone lengthening surgery can add 6-10 cm in height, which is an appealing prospect. However, unsuccessful surgeries can lead to lifelong disabilities. The surgery is also costly and requires a lengthy recovery period. While height is considered an advantage in life, many individuals are willing to compromise their health, finances, and time to achieve their desired height.
Use of anti-hunchback belts:
Many Chinese parents encourage their children to wear anti-hunchback belts, which help maintain a straight back posture, thereby preventing spinal issues and promoting better height development. However, constant use of such devices can be uncomfortable and inconvenient for children.
Utilization of traditional medicine:
Millions of Chinese people turn to herbal remedies prepared according to traditional recipes passed down through generations to increase height. While not all remedies live up to expectations, traditional Chinese medicine has yielded certain health benefits, helping children mitigate the risk of diseases and promoting good physical development.
Please note that leg lengthening surgery and the use of anti-hunchback belts come with potential risks and should be approached with caution. It is advisable to consult with medical professionals before considering such methods.
Utilize height-enhancing functional foods:
Many Chinese parents have started to prioritize the use of functional foods for their children, particularly those who lead busy lives and may not have much time to cook or focus on their children’s daily meals. Functional foods provide essential nutrients that aid in the development of a strong and tall bone system in children, promoting faster height growth.
Loss of confidence in the food industry due to frequent safety scandals has led many Chinese individuals to turn to functional foods as an alternative. These foods are chosen to supplement the necessary nutrients and provide the body with sufficient energy to function and maintain good health.
Growth hormone injections:
Growth hormone plays a crucial role in controlling bone growth and height. Children with congenital growth hormone deficiency caused by pituitary gland disorders may struggle to reach the standard height for their age and appear significantly shorter than their peers. Growth hormone injections are an effective treatment for children with this condition, helping them achieve better height development.
Many Chinese parents who consider their children to be short opt for growth hormone injections to promote height growth. However, this service often comes at a high price and must be administered under the supervision and control of doctors and specialists. Consequently, not everyone has access to this method of height increase. It is important to note that growth hormone injections are not suitable for individuals with short stature caused by dietary, lifestyle, or other factors, as they are not only ineffective in increasing height but also carry potential health risks.
In general, the approaches to height increase in the Chinese population revolve around improving nutrition, exercise patterns, and rest routines—key factors in the physical growth process. These efforts have yielded great success, placing China, along with Japan and Korea, among the countries with the highest average height in Asia, despite historically having a lower average height.
Parents seeking to enhance their children’s height can learn from the aforementioned methods used by the Chinese population. It is advisable to consult doctors and nutritionists for specific advice and to develop an effective and safe height-increasing plan for their children.