Russians Today Shorter and Weaker than Their Parents, Moscow Medical Experts Say

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, September 5, 2016)

Russians coming to adulthood now are approximately two centimeters shorter and much weaker than those who did so as recently as the 1970s and 1980s, the result not of genetic degradation but rather of a wide variety of #environmental factors, according to researchers at the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences.

Scholars at the Academy’s Scientific Center on Children’s Health point in particular to the decay of the environment, bad eating patterns and difficulties in getting safe drinking water (mk.ru/social/the-first-of-september/2016/08/30/rost-rossiyskikh-detey-s-nachala-veka-sokratilsya-na-2-santimetra.html and ridus.ru/news/230582).

Not only are Russians coming of age today shorter than their parents, the Center says; but their bodies have smaller muscle masses – and that has economic consequences. Today, “approximately 30 percent” of young Russians will be unable to perform jobs that require physical exertion.

The researchers say that one of the major dietary causes of this phenomenon is a sharp reduction in the amount of calcium children are getting. Ever fewer are drinking milk every day, choosing instead to consume soft drinks or even alcohol. According to their findings, 45 percent of Russian children aren’t getting the recommended amount of calcium in their diets.

The Academy urges Russian parents to give their children more milk, cheese, and kafir each day; it also says that they should insist that their children participate in competitive sports, get enough sleep, and are shown regular affection, all of which studies show can affect growth outcomes.

Many may dismiss all this as alarmist or even false, but even in periods of peace, changes in diet and behavior can have a huge impact on growth. Studies of the two Koreas underscore this point. They find that in the 1940s, the average height in both the north and south of that peninsula was the same.

But the contrast between the social policies of the north and those of the south since then have caused the two to display very different growth patterns in the population. Both North Korea and South Korea have seen their average height increase from approximately 160 centimeters in the 1940s.

But in the north, it has gone up only to 168 centimeters, while in the south it has risen to 172 centimeters, approximately the same annual rate of divergence between Russia and other countries over the same period.

[Article also appeared at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2016/09/russians-today-shorter-and-weaker-than.html]