Diet Relates Height to Risk of Certain Diseases

March 19, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. collaboration / kəˌlæb əˈreɪ ʃən / (n.) – a work or product resulting from the joint effort of two or more people
Example: The study was a collaboration of the best minds in the university.

2. implications /ˌɪm plɪˈkeɪ ʃən / (n.) – a possible effect in the future
Example: An implication of the increase in average worldwide height is an increase in the risk of developing cancer.

3. significantly / sɪgˈnɪfɪkəntli / (adv.) – having a big effect on something
Example: Car sales increased significantly compared to last year.

4. hormone / ˈhɔr moʊn / (n.) – a natural substance released inside the body, which performs specific tasks
Example: Insulin is a hormone that controls blood sugar.

5. underestimate /ˌʌn dərˈɛs təˌmeɪt / (v.) – to give lower value to something
Example: People should not underestimate the effects of diet on health.


Read the text below.
A recent study from Germany has found that diet is the possible link between height and the risk of developing certain diseases.

The research was a collaboration between scientists from the University of Tübingen [TOO-bing-en], the German Institute of Human Nutrition, and Harvard School of Public Health.

The average height around the globe has been increasing through the decades, and the study looked at the causes and health implications of this trend. The researchers suspect that it may be influenced by people’s diet.

Height increase may be a sign of consuming too much high-calorie and high-protein food such as dairy products. Possible evidence of this was found in the Netherlands, where the consumption of milk and dairy products is highest in the world. Men from the Netherlands are significantly taller now than they were 150 years ago.

Previous studies have found that taller people have a higher risk of developing cancer, but have a lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

The study found that a high-calorie, high-protein diet permanently activates hormonesIGF-1 and IGF-2, which control cell growth from the womb to adulthood. This permanent activation of cell growth increases the risk of cancer.

On the other hand, the same hormones also increase insulin sensitivity, letting the body use blood sugar efficiently. This lowers the risk of type-2 diabetes. The hormones also help lower fat content in the liver, consequently helping reduce the risk of CVD.

The researchers concluded that the effects of diet might have been underestimated in the past, and they recommend considering height and nutrition in the prevention of certain diseases.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of being tall?
·         In your opinion, how will the findings of the study affect peoples’ diets worldwide?

Discussion B

·         Do you think height should be a factor in diagnosing and treating patients? Why or why not?
·         Aside from diet, name other health factors that are usually neglected or underestimated by people.

March 19, 2016