How to Stunt Your Growth

Three Parts:Understanding the Danger of Growth StuntingDispelling Myths About Growth StuntingShedding Light on Growth-Inhibiting Factors

Stunted growth is a condition that primarily affects people who suffer from malnutrition during childhood. People whose growth is stunted typically have short heights and low body masses for their age group. More dangerous, however, is the fact that people whose growth has been stunted suffer from under-developed organs, and, as a result, are vulnerable to premature death. The effects of stunting are permanent - once a person's growth is stunted, they will likely never make up the "gap" separating them from a non-stunted person. Unfortunately, in an effort to gain a desired body type, some people actually attempt to stunt their growth on purpose. To be clear, growth stunting is very dangerous and should never be done intentionally, unless one is growing excessively.

Part 1
Understanding the Danger of Growth Stunting

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    Know that stunting is a (very serious) result of malnutrition. Growth stunting has only been definitively proven to result from malnutrition early in life - other explanations or anecdotal evidence are almost certain to be false. While certain other factors may affect a person's capacity for physical growth, the distinct medical condition that is full-blown, genuine growth stunting results primarily from malnutrition. Someone who starves or doesn't have access to essential nutrients as a young child is likely to become stunted, whereas someone who, for instance, drinks coffee as a teenager is not going to become stunted.
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    Know that stunting results only from causes early in a person's life. UNICEF pinpoints a person's first 1,000 days of life (about 3 years) as the crucial window during which stunting can occur. Depriving a child of food or important nutrients during this time frame will lead to stunted growth and a significantly reduced size for the rest of their life, unless new medical research can reverse it.
    • It's impossible to "retroactively" stunt a person's growth. In other words, while starving later in life may cause a drop in body weight or slowed growth, a person won't suffer the worst, most permanent effects of growth stunting.
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    Know that stunted growth is devastating to a person's health. The physical and mental effects are extremely serious and cannot be undone, even with the benefit of modern medicine. Someone with stunted growth will suffer not only from reduced body size and weight for their entire lives, but from a variety of other debilitating problems. Collectively, these problems can reduce the length and quality of the stunted person's life. These problems include:[1]
    • Weakness
    • Delayed brain development
    • Learning disorders/difficulties
    • Disproportionate height/mass ratio (i.e., chubby appearance)
    • Underdeveloped bones
    • Delayed organ development
    • Weakened immune system

Part 2
Dispelling Myths About Growth Stunting

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    Don't remove calcium from your diet. Calcium is an essential nutrient found in milk, soymilk, kale, oranges, oatmeal, cheese, sardines, white beans, and many other foods. Calcium is crucial for healthy teeth and bones and for properly-functioning muscles. By the time you're old enough to make a conscious decision to avoid calcium, the window for stunted growth will be long past. Thus, even though cutting calcium from your diet can cause your height to decrease, it won't technically lead to actual stunted growth. It will, however, lead to the following dangerous symptoms:[2]
    • Weak bones and teeth (which can contribute to decay and fracture)
    • Faintness
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Lung spasms
    • Spine and hip pain
    • Brittle nails and hair
    • Anxiety and irritability
    • Loss of mobility
    • Seizures (in severe cases)
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    Don't weigh yourself down with heavy loads. One common myth is that wearing a heavy backpack, purse, bag, etc. on your back will, over time, make you shorter. This is untrue, However, wearing a very heavy backpack can alter your posture if you're not careful, leading to a hunched, unnatural appearance that may give the illusion of a difference in height.[3]
    • Note, however, that this improper posture puts stress on the neck and back, leading to pain and soreness. In severe cases, back problems like slipped disks can eventually result.
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    Don't avoid chiropractors and masseuses - they can't make you taller. Massage, from a professional or an amateur, will not "stretch your spine" and make you taller. At most, it will relax your muscles and improve your posture, giving the illusion of getting taller. Massage can be a valuable tool for treating back pain and posture problems and should not be avoided, even if you don't want to become taller.
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    Don't binge on caffeine. Perhaps the most common, wide-spread myth about stunted growth is that it can be a result of drinking caffeine during the childhood or teen years. This is simply not supported by scientific evidence.[4] Excessive caffeine intake won't make you shorter, but can make you jittery, irritable, hyperactive, and/or paranoid.
    • Caffeine can also keep you from getting as much sleep as you need. This can lead to a weakened immune system, drowsiness, and decreased physical and mental performance, among other symptoms. Lack of sleep can also interfere with the release of natural growth hormones,at night and, over time, can inhibit growth (see below).

Part 3
Shedding Light on Growth-Inhibiting Factors

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    Know that anabolic steroids can prevent growth. While full-blown growth stunting is the result of malnutrition during infancy, certain other factors can have been linked to decreased growth potential, especially when they occur during a child's growing years. For example, the use of certain steroid drugs in children has been linked to lower heights, underdeveloped bones, and more. In fact, even children who use mild steroid inhalers to treat asthma have been found to have heights that are, on average, half an inch lower than those of children who didn't use the inhalers.[5]
    • In general, steroids should only be given to children for legitimate medical problems after being prescribed by a qualified medical professional. Under no circumstances should children take non-prescription steroids.
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    Know that smoking may prevent growth. Along with caffeine use, smoking is popularly cited as a cause of decreased growth. While caffeine's reputation is unfounded, smoking's is supported by some evidence. Some studies have shown that children who smoke (or are frequently exposed to second-hand smoke) are, on average, slightly shorter than those who do not.[6] The existing data, however, is largely inconclusive, so it is inaccurate to say that smoking inhibits growth beyond a shadow of a doubt.
    • What are well-documented are the numerous deadly effects of smoking, including heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, emphysema, cancer, and many others.[7] Quitting or avoiding smoking will increase your energy levels, boost your mood, and improve your overall health.
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    Know that lack of sleep can prevent growth. As noted above, lack of sufficient sleep, especially during crucial childhood years of development, is thought to decrease growth. This is because the body releases natural growth hormones during sleep. If the amount of sleep a person receives is insufficient, these hormones are suppressed.[8]
    • Again, the scientific data linking lack of sleep to lower growth is somewhat tenuous, that linking sleep deprivation to its negative effects is not. Sleep deprivation can lead to drowsiness, irritability, impaired judgement,lower cognitive ability,[9] and, in extreme cases, serious physical and mental problems.


  • If you make it a habit to slouch constantly, you may have a hump in your back when you grow older.
  • If none of the above works, the best thing you can do is accept yourself! It's not the end of the world if you aren't short, and you most certain don't want to hurt yourself. You were made the way you are!
  • Consult a doctor before making any significant lifestyle or diet changes.
  • Learn how to dress yourself to look shorter.


  • Making your backpack heavy can put strain on your back.

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Categories: Development Stages | Health