Posts Tagged ‘insole for height’

What Happened to America’s Height Advantage?

December 11, 2008

What happened to America’s height advantage?
Posted 7/15/2007 12:31 PM

By Matt Crenson, Associated Press
NEW YORK — America used to be the tallest country in the world.

From the days of the founding fathers right on through the industrial revolution and two world wars, Americans literally towered over other nations. In a land of boundless open spaces and limitless natural abundance, the young nation transformed its increasing wealth into human growth.

But just as it has in so many other arenas, America’s predominance in height has faded. Americans reached a height plateau after World War II, gradually falling behind the rest of the world as it continued growing taller.

By the time the baby boomers reached adulthood in the 1960s, most northern and western European countries had caught up with and surpassed the United States. Young adults in Japan and other prosperous Asian countries now stand nearly as tall as Americans do.

Even residents of the formerly communist East Germany are taller than Americans today. In Holland, the tallest country in the world, the typical man now measures 6 feet, a good two inches more than his average American counterpart.

Compare that to 1850, when the situation was reversed. Not just the Dutch but all the nations of western Europe stood 2½ inches shorter than their American brethren.

Does it really matter? Does being taller give the Dutch any advantage over say, the Chinese (men 5 feet, 4.9 inches; women 5 feet, 0.8 inches) or the Brazilians (men 5 feet, 6.5 inches; women 5 feet, 3 inches)?

Many economists would argue that it does matter, because height is correlated with numerous measures of a population’s well-being. Tall people are healthier, wealthier and live longer than short people. Some researchers have even suggested that tall people are more intelligent.

It’s not that being tall actually makes you smarter, richer or healthier. It’s that the same things that make you tall — a nutritious diet, good prenatal care and a healthy childhood — also benefit you in those other ways.

That makes height a good indicator for economists who are interested in measuring how well a nation provides for its citizens during their prime growing years. With one simple, easily collected statistic, economists can essentially measure how well a society prepares its children for life.

“This is the part of the society that usually eludes economists, because economists are usually thinking about income. And this is the part of the society that doesn’t earn an income,” said John Komlos, an economic historian at the University of Munich who was born in Hungary, grew up in Chicago, and has spent the last quarter century compiling data on the heights of nations.

Height tells you about a segment of the population that is invisible to traditional economic statistics. Children don’t have jobs or own houses. They don’t buy durable goods, or invest in the stock market. But obviously, investments in their well-being are critical to a nation’s economic future.

For several years now, Komlos and other researchers have been trying to figure out exactly why the United States fell behind. How could the wealthiest country in the world, during the most robust economic expansion in its history, simply stop growing?

“It’s absolutely fascinating,” said Eileen Crimmins, a demographer at the University of Southern California. “Maybe we’ve reached the point where we’re going to go backwards in height.”

Like many human traits, an individual’s height is determined by a mix of genes and environment. Some experts put the contribution of genes at 40%, some at 70%, some even higher. But they all agree that aside from African pygmies and a few similar exceptions, most populations have about the same genetic potential for height.

That leaves environment to determine the differences in height between populations around the world, specifically the environment children experience from the moment of conception through adolescence. Any deficiency along the way, from poor prenatal care to early childhood disease or malnutrition, can prevent a person from reaching his or her full genetic height potential.

“We know environment can affect heights by three, four, five inches,” said Richard H. Steckel, an Ohio State University economist who has also done research on height trends in the United States during the 19th century.

The earliest stages of life are the most important to the human growth machine; at age 2 there is already about a 70% correlation between a child’s height and his or her eventual adult stature.

All of this means a population’s average height is a very sensitive indicator of its most vulnerable members’ welfare.

Not surprisingly, rich countries tend to be taller simply because they have more resources to spend on feeding and caring for their children. But wealth doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a society will give its children what they need to thrive.

In the Czech Republic, per capita income is barely half of what it is in the United States. Even so, Czechs are taller than Americans. So are Belgians, who collect 84% as much income as Americans.

And those height differences translate into real benefits. A number of studies have shown that disease and malnutrition early in life — the same things that limit a person’s height — increase a person’s chances of developing heart disease and other life-shortening conditions later on. Though tall people are more likely to get cancer, they suffer less mortality overall than short people.

International statistics bear it out. Life expectancy in the Netherlands is 79.11 years; in Sweden it’s 80.63. America’s life expectancy of 78.00 years puts it in somewhat shorter company, just above Cyprus and a few notches below Bosnia-Herzegovina.

“Obviously America is not doing badly. It’s not at the level of developing nations,” Komlos said. “But it’s also not doing as well as it could.”

His latest research paper, published in the June issue of Social Science Quarterly, suggests the blame may lie with America’s poor diet and its expensive, inequitable health care system.

“American children might consume more meals prepared outside of the home, more fast food rich in fat, high in energy density and low in essential micronutrients,” wrote Komlos and co-author Benjamin E. Lauderdale of Princeton University. “Furthermore, the European welfare states provide a more comprehensive social safety net including universal health care coverage.”

In the United States, by comparison, an estimated 9 million children have no health insurance.

Komlos’ most recent data indicate a small uptick in the heights of white Americans born between 1975 and 1983, a suggestion that the gap may finally be closing. But there has been no similar increase among blacks, a suggestion that inequality may indeed play a significant role in the height gap.

In another recent paper, Komlos and Lauderdale also found height inequality between American urbanites and residents of suburbs and rural areas. In Kansas, for example, white males are about as tall as their European peers; it’s big cities like New York, where men are about 1.75 inches shorter than that, that drag America’s average down.

Now Komlos has started comparing the heights of children to determine at what age Americans begin falling behind their peers across the Atlantic. Not surprisingly, he sees a difference from birth, an observation that suggests prenatal care may be significant contributor factor to the height gap.

But it is unlikely that Komlos will ever find one simple factor to explain why Americans have fallen behind other rich countries in height. In all likelihood it is caused by a combination of things — a little bit health care, some diet, a sprinkling of economic inequality.

“In some ways it gets to the fundamentals of the American society, namely what is the ideology of the American society and what are the shortcomings of that ideology,” Komlos said. “I would argue that to take good care of its children is not part of that ideology.”

Whether that’s true is debatable; the height gap doesn’t measure how much Americans love their children. But at a minimum it does indicate — in raw feet and inches — whether the nation is giving its youngsters what they need to reach their full biological potential, or selling them short.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Bald Truth About CEO’s

December 10, 2008

Follicly challenged CEO Steve Ballmer of Microsoft. The vast majority of executives in our unscientific survey said they would rather be bald than short.
By Kai-Uwe Knoth, AP
Follicly challenged CEO Steve Ballmer of Microsoft. The vast majority of executives in our unscientific survey said they would rather be bald than short.

By Del Jones, USA TODAY
CEOs seem to instinctively know that it’s better to be authoritative than indecisive. They know about the vision thing and the passion thing. They even know a few leadership lessons that aren’t taught in business school — such as, it helps to be tall.

But an unscientific survey of USA TODAY’s panel of CEOs and other evidence suggest that baldness might be a blind spot for many.

TELL US: If you had to change your hair or your height to make it to the top of the corporate ladder, which would you choose?

CEOs say being bald doesn’t impede success and, given a choice, it’s better to be bald than short. So widely held is this conventional wisdom among top executives that when asked to choose, most CEOs say they’d take 2 more inches of height over a full head of Robert Redford hair.

Even most bald CEOs, including many who are both tall and bald, would choose to be taller. “Lack of hair can only mean the brain is busy with more important functions,” says Murray Martin, the 5-foot-8 CEO of $5.7 billion Pitney Bowes, who is being generous when he describes his hair as “thinning.”
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“I don’t believe it ever (affected) my career. But as I progressed, it became less and less of an issue until it is now a point of pride and a personal branding advantage,” says Steve Carley, the 6-foot-1 bald CEO of El Pollo Loco. “It encourages approachability.”

As smart as they are, CEOs have been known as a group to get it wrong. It now appears that was the case just months ago when they almost universally said they didn’t see a recession looming. Could they also be collectively clueless about hair vs. height?

It’s not that being short is a career launching pad. Plenty of studies have found that taller men make more money, gain more success and attract more women. In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell says 30% of Fortune 500 CEOs are 6-foot-2 and taller — vs. just 4% of all men.

Bald men are a much bigger slice of the general population. The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery estimates that 50% of Caucasian men older than 45 and 60% older than 60 have clinical balding. Stress can cause hair to fall out, so all things being equal, the percentage of bald leaders might be expected to be a little higher than average. Yet:

•If elected, John McCain would be the first bald U.S. president since Dwight Eisenhower. To be fair, baldness, unlike height, can be a matter of opinion. At 71, some might say McCain is doing OK in the hair department for his age group. But pictures of 42 presidents indicate that less than 25% were bald or balding, when statistically it should be at least half.

•There are 41 male state governors. Those who are bald or balding make up less than 20% and, yes, that includes the aptly named John Baldacci of Maine. The hair-loss club dropped a governor Wednesday when New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced he would resign after being linked as a client to a prostitution ring. He will be replaced by Lt. Gov. David Paterson, who is not bald. Only 10% to 20% of the 84 male U.S. senators are bald or balding.

•Among corporate CEOs, women run four of the largest 125 companies on the Fortune 500. USA TODAY examined photos of the men and considered about 25% to be bald or balding. Bald men running the nation’s largest companies include Chevron’s David O’Reilly, Home Depot’s Francis Blake, Morgan Stanley’s John Mack and Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein.

•It may be more difficult to be bald and extremely rich. Warren Buffett, the richest man in the world, according to Forbes magazine, has lost hair in the past year but at 77 still retains a respectable amount. The richest American on the Forbes 400 list who is truly bald is No. 15 Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft. The response of “no comment” was as much a male pattern among CEOs as was their hairline, and Microsoft was among the large corporations with bald or balding CEOs that did not respond to USA TODAY’s requests.

The 11 male U.S. billionaires ahead of Ballmer on the Forbes list have their own hair, or at least appear to. Hair transplants and toupees are still relatively uncommon. Sales of male wigs peaked in the 1970s, and New Hair Institute founder Dr. William Rassman says CEOs are probably no more likely to have rugs or plugs than all men of their age group.

Only 1% of 1,138 professionals making $100,000 or more who responded to an unscientific survey by TheLadders job website said they were bald and trying to cover it up; and just one hair transplant is performed on men for every five breast augmentations performed on women, according to the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

But the success rate of transplants has improved, and they cost less than $7,000 on average, $20,000 on the high end, no more than a one-way ride aboard a corporate jet. Rassman says he has performed hair-transplant surgery on more than 30 billionaires. He declined to identify them.

A 6-foot-6 man creates a commanding presence when he enters a meeting — a feat more difficult to achieve for someone inches shorter, says George Jones, the “follicly challenged” 5-foot-9 CEO of bookstore chain Borders Group. He oversees 34,000 employees and $4 billion in annual revenue.

USA TODAY surveyed its panel of CEOs, retired CEOs and leading executives. There was a lower response rate than for surveys on other topics, but 95% of the 74 who responded said, if given a choice, they would rather be bald than short. More telling is that the 31 CEOs who identified themselves as bald or “headed in that direction” in the unscientific survey were unanimous in saying that being vertically challenged is more detrimental to an aspiring executive’s career.

USA TODAY asked TheLadders to follow up with a survey. The job-search site for high-income professionals got 1,138 responses. Half said they still had as much hair as they did when teens, while 15% said they were bald, and 35% said they were headed in that direction. Among all respondents to the unscientific survey, 67% said 2 inches more in height would be better for career success, vs. 33% who said a full head of hair.

Those results mirrored another unscientific survey taken at USA TODAY’s request by Vistage International, an organization of CEOs. Vistage asked its membership: “If appearances count, what aspect is most helpful in advancing a person’s career?” Of the 219 responding, 66% said taller is better; 34% chose hair.

“I think they are in denial,” Rassman says. He says bald men of power have confessed to him that even they discriminate against other bald men.

Baby-face bias

Academia has largely ignored the impact of balding on success, but Yale University psychology professor Leslie Zebrowitz has written extensively about how people with round faces and other traits that resemble babies are perceived to be more immature in the workplace and in the courtroom by juries and judges.

Zebrowitz says she knows of no research that has tried to determine whether bald men are more likely to have baby faces than men with hair. But if bald men do look more babyish, “Then that could account for their under-representation among CEOs,” she says.

Nicholas Rule, who wrote the paper “The Face of Success,” published in February’s issue of Psychological Science, says bald men may be more likely to be victims of the “baby-face bias” described by Zebrowitz. In his study, Rule had Tufts University students look at photos of CEOs and offer their gut reactions about their leadership capabilities. At USA TODAY’s request, Rule examined the data and found that the photos of bald CEOs were considered by the students to be warmer but less powerful than CEOs with hair.

“A great smile is much better” than hair or height, says Howard Behar, the 5-foot-10 and bald former president of Starbucks North America. “I mean, look at Mitt Romney. Lots of hair. Tall and good-looking. Sure didn’t help him. Compare him to the Dalai Lama: short, no hair and not exactly a looker. Just call me the Dalai Behar.”

Some say that worse than bald is trying to cover it up with a “comb-over” that uses remaining hair to cover the exposed scalp. “Like most CEOs, I’m cognizant of my appearance,” says Bob Kodner, CEO of The Crack Team franchiser that fixes leaking basement cracks. Five years ago, Kodner saw his cranium in an elevator mirror and thought someone had “thrown a piece of baloney on my head.” Ever since, he’s been shaving his head once a week. His advice: Don’t “prolong the inevitable.”

Craigslist founder and Chairman Craig Newmark is bald and “almost” 5-foot-7. Company CEO Jim Buckmaster is a foot taller and rich in hair.

“The general Net community does regard me as eye candy, a la George Costanza” from Seinfeld, Newmark says, but he adds that neither bald nor short is a good thing in corporate life. When pressed to make a choice, Newmark says, “I’d prefer to be a few inches taller.”

Natural Height? Stretch it out!

December 9, 2008

This video shows you simple exercises that will help you naturally increase your height by standing up straighter! Another safe and effective way to grow taller.