Love and hope can help people to grow taller, a new study suggests.
Prof Barry Bogin, a biological anthropologist from Loughborough University, delved into historical records to see how height changes as living conditions wax and wane.
He found that during straitened times, such as the Long Depression of 1873–1896, heights dropped in the United States by around 1.1 inches and 0.4 inches in the UK, before recovering as people’s situations improved.
Prof Bogin also looked at 300 years of records from children’s homes and found that mistreated or orphaned children often experienced stunting, but when their situation improved, their height increased.
Likewise, migrants moving away from unstable or dangerous regimes tend to experience increases in height after relocating to more prosperous and secure nations.
‘Insecurity and emotional stress can kill’
“Love and hope play essential roles in helping people grow in a healthy way,” said Prof Bogin.
“When we don’t have love or hope, we experience toxic emotional stress, which has harmful biological effects, including blocking hormones needed for growth and height.
“Insecurity and emotional stress can kill, with the most notorious example being the very high death rates in orphanages throughout European history.”