Are chronic diseases related to height? Results from the Portuguese National Health Interview Survey.


This paper analyze the association between height and chronic diseases in Portugal and the extent to which this relationship is mediated by education. The sample upon which the analysis is based comprised those participants in the 2005/2006 Portuguese National Health Interview Survey (n=28,433) aged 25-79. Logistic regressions measured the association of height with ten chronic diseases, adjusting for age, lifestyle, education, and other socioeconomic factors. Among women, an additional centimeter in stature significantly decreased the prevalence of asthma, chronic pain, and acute cardiac disease, by 0.057, 0.221, and 0.033 percentage points, respectively. Also, mental disorders were significantly less prevalent in the last quartile of height. Among men, an additional centimeter in height was associated with a 0.074 lower prevalence of asthma, and men in the last quartile of height were significantly less at risk of acute cardiovascular disease. There was no significant association between height and the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and pulmonary diseases. As for the impact of education, women with a tertiary level were on average 5.3cm taller than those with no schooling; among men, the difference was almost 9cm. Adjusting for education reduced the height-related excess risk of ill health by 36% on average among men, and by 7% among women. The analysis indicates that there is a significant association of height with several chronic conditions, and that education plays a mediating role in the height-health connection. By emphasizing the role of height and education as determinants of chronic conditions, this paper also highlights the role of conditions related to childhood health and socioeconomic background.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2014.06.001

Cite this paper

@article{Perelman2014AreCD, title={Are chronic diseases related to height? Results from the Portuguese National Health Interview Survey.}, author={Julian Perelman}, journal={Economics and human biology}, year={2014}, volume={15}, pages={56-66} }