Is it Normal to Shrink in Height When You Lose Weight?
Because your height is determined by your skeleton and not your body fat, you should not lose height with weight. However, some people have experienced a reduction of height, which is usually discovered during a visit to the doctor's office. Changes in height may be explained through some common causes.
Scales do not give perfect measurements each time you use them, so you track your weight over time to look for trends. Height is the same way. Measurements can vary depending on who is doing the measuring. Also, if you slouch or lean forward, you may affect the measurement.
Researchers have found that adults may lose a small amount of height after age 40, which according to MedlinePlus amounts to only 1 cm per decade. After age 70, height loss may accelerate. However, height loss amounts to about 1 to 3 inches through a person's lifetime. Therefore, large height changes over the course of a few years are unusual.
Losing weight may have health benefits, but unhealthy weight-loss methods can put women at risk for osteoporosis. Gina Shaw of WebMD says risks to bone health include crash diets that are deficient in nutrients, especially calcium. However, height is not an adequate measurement to detect nutrition deficiency or early osteoporosis. Your height may remain the same, but you may still be at risk for osteoporosis.
Research on spinal compression indicates that height will decrease slightly after sitting, lifting and other activities that compress cartilage discs in the spine. This is a normal function, and the discs serve as shock absorbers that provide flexibility in the back.
Caroline Leopold has more than 15 years of experience writing for health and community organizations. Her work has been published in "Med City News," "Significance Magazine" and "Student Doctor Network." Leopold holds a master's degree in community psychology and statistics.