The environment we grow up in plays a key role in how tall we end up being. A recent study has shown that 80 percent of your height is based on your genetics, and 20 percent is based on your environment.

In this study, they discovered that the children of UK convicts grew up to be on average 2-4 centimeters taller than their peers that were left in the UK. In the 1800’s thousands of criminals from the UK were shipped to Australia to continue their sentences. The majority of those shipped were serving time for petty crimes and lived out their sentences in very good conditions. They were allowed to work and live as a family. However, the women were only permitted to have children if they had already completed the majority of their sentences.

Women having children later in their lives made it so they couldn’t have as many children; which created very small families, especially compared to the families of parents who were not convicts. These smaller families meant that more resources (mainly food) were available for each child. In turn, the children of convicts were able to grow taller than the children of non-convict parents, due to the amount of nutrients that they were able to consume.

Crazy right? In reality, similar things happen all over the world. Let’s take Egypt for example; they have certain religious beliefs that actually stunt their growth! In Egypt 75% of their total energy intake comes from unleavened bread. The wheat, that makes up their bread, contains a chemical called phytic acid; which is an acid that hinders the absorption of zinc in the body. Leavened bread (regular bread) is made using yeast; which inactivates the phytic acid and allows the body to absorb the zinc.

The micronutrient “Zinc” plays an important role in cell division, and since the phytic acid inhibits the absorption of it, Egyptians have stunted growth; making them shorter than those that don’t follow the same religious practice.

The environment we grow up in plays a key role in how tall we end up being, so make sure your children grow up in an environment full of nutrients so that they can enjoy the benefits of being tall.