Do Short People Actually Live Longer?


Do Short People Actually Live Longer?

A short person and a tall person are having a debate over height. The short person believes being short is better than being tall, but the tall person disagrees. The tall person argues that being tall means improved health, as height is largely determined by nutritional intake during childhood. The short person asserts that studies have shown that short people live longer. The tall person disagrees and the two continue to bicker.

For some time now, there has been a saying that short people live longer than tall people and while the saying might seem bogus, research does indicate a possible link between height and longevity. 

Researchers have reviewed over 130 studies that collected information on nearly 1.1 million people’s heights, along with their causes of death. While studying the trends, researchers found links between people’s heights and their likelihood of dying in different ways. For the last 30 years, several researchers have found a negative correlation between greater height and lifespan. Findings based on millions of deaths suggest shorter bodies have lower death rates and longer average lifespans. 

A study of men who had served in the Italian military showed that those under 161.1 cm (approximately 5’3”) lived longer than those over 161.1 cm. Researchers have also found that at 70 years old, shorter men were more likely to live approximately 2 years more than those who are taller.  Additionally, a 2017 study analyzed the height and life span of 3,901 living and deceased basketball players who played between 1946-2010. The study on height and lifespan of former basketball players found that larger body size reduced longevity, as the tallest players died younger than the shortest plays. It is important to note, though, that the researchers did not correlate variables like weight and body mass index for these two studies. 

More research is needed to understand why shorter people seem to live longer, and there are multiple theories. Calorie restriction, or eating less, is a possible factor that favors longer life for shorter people. With their bigger bones and larger internal organs, taller people require a larger daily caloric intake for optimal functioning. In addition, because taller people have bigger organs, there is a greater chance that a cell in the organ will become cancerous. Cancerous cells appear when a mistake occurs during cell replication, and bigger organs require more cells to replicate. Another theory is shorter bodies have fewer cells. Tall people can have upwards of trillions of more cells than short people, allowing for more exposure and impact to cells from carcinogens. A third possible theory is that more cells mean more cell replications, and as people age, cells may eventually stop repairing tissues and organ damage in taller people. 

While height might be a factor that impacts longevity, it is not the only factor. Tall people are not destined to live shorter lives, and short people are not necessarily guaranteed to live longer lives. Lifestyle choices can affect longevity; avoiding drugs, reducing alcohol consumption, exercising more, eating healthier, reducing stress, and living in a less polluted area are some ways to live healthier and potentially increase longevity.  

Many studies have found a correlation between height and lifespan. However, while these studies are compelling, they are far from conclusive. The best thing to do to increase one’s lifespan is to make positive lifestyle choices.


Work Cited:

“Evidence That Short People Live Longer: What We Know.” Healthline, 1 Feb. 2021, Accessed 7 June 2021.

Matthews, Susan E. “How Height Affects Cause of Death.” LiveScience, 30 May 2013, Accessed 7 June 2021.

Samaras, Thomas T., et al. Is height related to longevity? PubMed, 7 Mar. 2003,,lower%20life%20expectancy%20at%20birth. Accessed 7 June 2021.