You imagine your child, standing in the corner alone when other kids are playing. You see him constantly mocked and laughed at. You hear silly names other call him and cringe away in disgust. This is when you decide that your kid will not face the fate that many short kids face, he will be tall or as tall as others.
Height has always been unfairly associated with qualities- taller people are seen as stronger, intelligent; with leadership qualities and those with short height are seen as unsuitable to sports, suffer from low self esteem and are told that they will be unsuccessful in life.
It cannot be more far from the truth, after all height has nothing to do with intelligence, skill and confidence. With efforts, shorter kids can also excel in sports that are not dependent on height like cricket, tennis, swimming.
So ignoring the reality, all parents, tall and short, worry about whether their kids will grow to be taller and thus ‘successful’ in life.
About Height growth
When children are young their skeleton is made more out of cartilage than of bones. As they grow up the cartilages or growth plates at the ends of the bones enlarge and push the older cartilage cells inside the bones where they ossify and form bones. When all growth plates close, the bones stop growing and they stop growing taller.
Some say women grow till the age of 21 and men grow till the age of 25, so even if puberty has left your child still wanting some more inches, there is still some hope.
Factors on which determine Height:
Genes: Height is determined 40-60% by genetics. In a research conducted in Queensland institute of medical research on twins and siblings showed that hereditability of height is 80% while another research done in Miao-Xin Li of Hunan Normal University in China and his colleagues estimated a height heritability of 65 percent. It proves that hereditability of height also depends on the other factors like dietary habit and lifestyle.
Thus kids will only reach the height that they are genetically meant to be when the external factors are favoring their growth. There are indicators available which can predict the height of the child depending on the heights of both the parents.
Sex: Women tend to be shorter than men across all cultures and races. Girls tend to grow faster when they are young but after puberty they end up being shorter than boys of their age.
Diet: An important factor other than genes which decided how tall your kid will be. Dr. Shweta Iyengar says, “Diet plays an important role in kid’s development. Whatever nutrition they get first is utilized to fulfill the vital functions and the rest is used up for growth. If the nutrition falls short of what is required for the vital function then it is definitely doing to lead to poor growth and height.”
A diet that has all the essential carbohydrates, proteins, fatty acids in the required amounts and which is low in sodium, low in excess sugar and saturated fats will ensure that children reach the height that their genes will allow them to reach.
Exercise: Children need their share of exercise and activity to build and strengthen their muscles and bones. Regular exercise helps children burn off the calories, improves appetite and leads to weight gain which results in proper growth of height.
Lifestyle: Kids who are well fed, who have access to proper play grounds and parks and have medical facilities at their disposal will surely fare better than those who are deprived of all these. If the child grows in hygienic surroundings he will be less likely to suffer from many diseases that will ensure that he reaches the optimum height.
There are other factors that determine the heights are sleep patterns, exposure to pollution, psychological factors and Climate.
How to make sure your child reaches the optimum height?
-Diet: You have to make sure that your child gets the optimum nutrition that is by making sure that he eats fresh fruits, vegetables, sprouts, legumes, fiber rich foods like oats, cereals, iron rich foods like spinach and ragi and calcium from milk, paneer etc.
You need to monitor your child’s diet to reduce the intake of junk food and increase natural and nutritionally rich foods. Pay special attention to proteins as these are responsible for growth and development of the body.