To estimate full adult height for older study participants, the researchers examined relationships between current height and the length of limbs, which do not shrink with age, from younger survey participants who have not yet started shrinking
While prior work has looked for the connection between height and health—both in childhood and adulthood—the researchers are the first to examine height loss as we age. They show that regardless of your maximum height, the loss of height over time is also an important indicator for other health issues as we age.
For example, the research reveals an especially strong relationship between height loss and cognitive health. Those who had lost more height were also much more likely to perform poorly on standard tests of cognitive health such as short-term memory, ability to perform basic arithmetic and awareness of the date.
In addition, having completed primary school, rather than being illiterate, is associated with 0.9 cm less height shrinkage in men—a large difference when considering that overall average height loss for men is 3.3 cm. Completing high school meant an additional 1 cm less in shrinkage.