Is Coffee the Reason I’m Short?

Standing at a whopping five feet tall, I have not seen a change in my height since 6th grade. Ironically enough, that is when I started drinking coffee. My boyfriend always tries to tell me to stop drinking coffee because it “stunts your growth”. I always tried to tell him that I didn’t believe that and I’m only petite because of my genetics. My parents both aren’t very tall so I’m not very shocked that I’m not either. But being that I am significantly shorter than the two of them and my 16 year old brother, I wanted to see if coffee had any sort of effect on my height.

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The first link that popped up when I typed it into Google was a New York Times article that right from the get-go stated that coffee does NOT stunt your growth. Apparently, this has been a long standing myth. When the New York Times explained where this myth had come from, they said it was probably started due to a claim about caffeine affecting height. Early studies detected that drinking too much caffeine could reduce bone growth and mass and perhaps even cause Osteoporosis (a medical condition in which the bones lose mass/tissue and strength due to a lack of calcium or vitamin D). The article discusses a study in which they tracked children’s caffeine intake for six years. Within this time, they noticed that within the two control groups (one drinking more caffeine than the other), there was no difference in their bone mass/heights. This proves that they don’t believe coffee has any affect on height.

An article from Harvard Health also stated that coffee is not proven to stunt your growth. Some of their reasoning was that at the age that most people begin drinking coffee, they are already at the maximum height they will remain at for the rest of their life. You can’t just undo bone growth by drinking a cup or two of coffee per day. Girls are fully done growing between ages 15-17 and boys are done a little after that but, I know I started drinking coffee much earlier than that so I can still be skeptical. (And like we learned in class, you always should be skeptical). Harvard also makes a great point that drinking coffee won’t make you shorter and not drinking coffee won’t make you taller.

Harvard Health even stated other health benefits of coffee. For instance, it reduces your risk of abnormal heart rhythms, type II diabetes, Alzheimers disease and Parkinson’s disease; just to name a few. As well as these, it can promote healthy weight loss in people and obviously enough giving you an energy boost.

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So, when people try to tell you that coffee stunts your growth, don’t believe it. You are safe from Osteoporosis by taking the proper measures, getting enough calcium/vitamin D and maintaining a healthy diet (for the most part). No need to fear coffee, it is such a popular and loved drink for a reason!! Enjoy it!

 

14 thoughts on “Is Coffee the Reason I’m Short?

  1. Maximilian Arthur Kesner

    Caroline,
    That was a very well written post. The only advice I can give is to maybe try and incorporate class topics into the blog. For example, you could have incorporated a hypothesis. I was honestly quite surprised to read that coffee doesn’t actually have an effect on and adolescent’s growth. I’m curious as to whether Harvard Health was saying that the health benefits of drinking coffee apply to children as well, because if they are assuming one starts drinking coffee at 15, they most likely looked at the effects that coffee would have on a fifteen-year-old. My parents never let me drink coffee as a child. It was probably a good thing though, because this article says coffee can increase jitteriness, and I was always a jumpy child. Anyways, thanks.

  2. Marissa Dorros

    This post reminded me of some of the material that was explained by one of our class guest speakers, Dr. Douglas Cavener, Dean of the Eberly College of Science. He stressed that height is almost completely determined by genes, except when someone fails to fulfill basic dietary nutrition. There are some environmental factors that can prevent someone from reaching their natural height, so it’s an interesting proposal that coffee might be one of these things. I’m glad your studies concluded that coffee does not stunt growth; however, this study explains how the amount of coffee consumed by pregnant mothers can alter the birthweight of their baby.

  3. tmv5147

    Well I think if you showed this to a bunch of middle school girls and a Starbucks they would both breathe a sigh of relief by the end. There are a lot of foods, drinks and supplements out there that are said to stunt one’s growth. I think it’s hard to take something that then messes with your genetics. Obviously there is an exception to certain substances that are abused. If that was a true case then it almost becomes like alcohol, why would it be legal to sell to someone who is still in the process of growing if the FDA knows that it stunts growth. They’d have a coffee drinking law; people would be getting ID’d at Starbucks with some “I’m fully grown ID”. I don’t think parents would allow their children to participate in a study on whether or not coffee stunts growth, and I’ve never heard of any animals that drink coffee so doctors can cross that one off their list. To be honest I feel like this is just an excuse for parents to have so thier kids don’t drink coffee just because coffee has so much caffeine.
    http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/coffee.html

  4. Kaitlyn A Kaminski

    Hi Caroline,

    This topic is my life! I’m 5’2 and everyone always said coffee “stunts my growth,” but I physically cannot live without it- I literally run on Dunkin’. I thought your post was intriguing and captivating. I also noticed that I wouldn’t say addicted, but I think I became immune to coffee because when I do not drink it, I get headaches. This article talks about how coffee can affect fertility among other things- http://www.ias.org.uk/uploads/pdf/Women/505.pdf. I am sure just like anything there are costs and benefits and people need to be careful with everything they do.

  5. Samantha Liebensohn

    As a dedicated coffee drinker this post immediately caught my eye. My dad had always taunted me that by drinking too much coffee I would never grow, so this post will absolutely come in handy the next time this topic comes up. This post was well organized and provided very useful and interesting information, good job! I decided to look up some benefits of drinking coffee and came across this article: http://www.onemedical.com/blog/newsworthy/10-healthy-reasons-to-drink-coffee-2/ you should check it out if you have a chance!

  6. Darby Helen Smith

    This blog post reminded me of the fact the correlation does not equal causation. As you were introducing your topic you brought up the fact that you were skeptical because you are very short, and starting drinking coffee around the age that you stopped growing. This is a perfect example of how people begin to believe in things that are not scientifically proven but grab the attention of many people due to the power of the anecdote! This is very similar to the example that we went over in one of our recent classes about people believing that vaccines cause autism, just because children receive a certain vaccine around the same time that they usually start showing signs of autism. Scientists could not find evidence to back either of these hypotheses, but technically cannot find any evidence to rule them out either.

  7. Margaret Marchok

    Caroline- this article grabbed my attention right away. I too struggle with my height. I am only 5’3″ and I really wish I was taller. I am always looking for explanations for my height. My mom is very short and my dad is very tall, so my theory is just that my genes decided to split the difference and have my height fall in the middle of theirs. However, in your situation, you may just have been lucky enough to get the recessive gene for shortness. That could explain why you are the smallest in your family. This article also gives a theory on what makes people short- http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2065578/A-shortage-genes-explains-people-short-study-reveals.html. Enjoy!

  8. Asaad Saleh Salim Al Busaidi

    This causation has really grabbed my attention. I have never heard of it, but my parents always tell me that I should not drink a lot of coffee not should I drink energy drink. I personally think that there is still a big chance that there is a correlation between coffee and heights since the studies were observational. In addition, children are known to have a lot of energy and will only drink a small amount of coffee. Therefore, children who drink relatively smaller amount of coffee than the amount adults drink could cause observational studies results to be not accurate, as small amount of coffee may not affect the body at all.

    1. Asaad Saleh Salim Al Busaidi

      This causation has really grabbed my attention. I have never heard of it, but my parents always tell me that I should not drink a lot of coffee not should I drink energy drink. I personally think that there is still a big chance that there is a correlation between coffee and heights since the studies were observational. In addition, children are known to have a lot of energy and will only drink a small amount of coffee. Therefore, children who drink relatively smaller amount of coffee than the amount adults drink could cause observational studies results to be not accurate, as small amount of coffee may not affect the body at all. However, I am kind of convinced that coffee does not stunt growth as I found a lot of articles that say that coffee does not cause stop of growth. This is a link that also supports the claim made in your article.
      http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/coffee.html

  9. Justine Gabrielle Barth

    Your blog caught my interest because I am quite the coffee drinker as well! I never actually heard of this myth but its very interesting that it exists. Ironically, last week I had much more coffee than normal due to lots of homework and exams and my wrists were in a lot of pain so I asked my mom in concern why my wrists could be in pain, and she said that the amount of caffeine I have been having could be affecting my bones. Could her assumption be apart of the myth you mentioned or does caffeine have any effect on the bones? http://coffeeandhealth.org/topic-overview/caffeine-and-bone-health/ This website explains how caffeine does not directly effect your bones in anyway at all, but if you are lacking certain vitamins it will not help nourish your body with those vitamin deficiencies.

  10. Jen Malespina

    I really enjoyed this blog because this myth is something I never believed in. I have been drinking coffee since I was about 11 and am 5’8 so its easy to see why I’ve been skeptical about this issue lol. I liked that you included the benefits of drinking coffee when most people usually focus on the negatives. Here is an interesting article I found highlighting advantages as well! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/17/coffee-health-benefits_n_4102133.html

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