Monday, April 12, 2004

The concentration of wealth begins to affect the height of Americans

Title: Americans shrinking as junk food takes its toll
Source: The Observer, London
Date: April 4, 2004

From the article:
    Researchers have made a startling discovery: Americans are shrinking. A nation once famed for its strapping, well-nourished youth is gradually diminishing in physical stature. By contrast, the heights of men and women from Europe are increasing inexorably.... At the time of the American Revolution, the average US male was two inches taller than his British counterpart. Today he is almost half an inch shorter.

    This surprising reappraisal of American and European physiques is the work of researcher John Komlos of Munich University. 'Much of the difference is due to the great social inequality that now exists in the United States,' Komlos told The Observer last week. 'In Europe, there is - in most countries - good health service provision for most members of society and plenty of protein in most people's diets. As a result, children do not suffer illnesses that would blight their growth or suffer problems of malnutrition. For that reason, we have continued to grow and grow.

    On the other hand, America has eight million people with no job, 40 million individuals with no health insurance, 35 million living below the poverty line, and a population that exists mainly on junk food. There, the rise in average height that marked its progress as a nation through the 19th and 20th centuries has stopped and has actually reversed - albeit very slightly - in recent years. Many Americans are rich and do well anatomically as a result, but there is a large underclass that is starting to drag the country down the stature charts."
Malnutrition and lack of healthcare -- experienced by a "large underclass" -- are the marks of a third world nation. America is starting to look like a third world nation. When the concentration of wealth begins affecting the stature or an entire population in this way, it is clear that things are seriously out of balance and it is time for change.

See also this post on hunger in America.


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