Height of Pakistanis has fallen 4 inches over 50 years, say experts

Published: May 7, 2012
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Cousin marriages, malnutrition have led to height decrease, reveals Professor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan.

Cousin marriages, malnutrition have led to height decrease, reveals Professor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan.

FAISALABAD: The average height of Pakistanis has fallen four inches over the last 50 years due to malnourishment and food deficiency.

This was revealed in a workshop on “Applied Nature Need Based research Projects of Food Industries” organized by National Institute of Food Science & Technology (NIFSAT) University of Agriculture, Faisalabad here on Monday.

Speaking on the occasion, Vice Chancellor, UAF Professor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan, said that cousin marriages were also one of the reasons for the short stature of Pakistanis. He urged the need for new diet packages to be introduced for balanced, affordable food.

Dr Iqrar also expressed concerns over existing eating habits, saying 50 years ago, large amounts of corn flour was traditionally consumed, but over time, Pakistanis had lost the mechanism to cook roti with corn flour, which was a cheaper, healthier staple food item.

Dr Iqrar revealed that a BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition and Dietetics and Food Engineering degree was being initiated for the first time in the country. He hoped that by introducing new disciplines, a trained human resource would be available for the food industry.

Speaking on the occasion, Mehboob Aly Manji, President, VITA Pakistan stressed the need to exploit the indigenous food potential by introducing fruits drinks such as Falsa, Luqat and Jaman. He said that floriculture practices could be most beneficial in uplifting the living standards of small farmers. Manji said Pakistan was exporting 80-90 tons of flowers to Saudi Arabia every year, and this volume could be increased by promoting and incentivizing floriculture.

Professor Dr Faqir Muhammad Anjum, Director General (NIFSAT) said that Nestle Pakistan and VITA Food have signed MOU’s to promote skill development initiatives through short courses.

“NIFSAT has conducted 12 national and international symposia, seminars and workshops during the last year with the collaboration of industries,” he added.

Dr Muhammad Shafique Ch. Director, RAMNA Food, Lahore stressed the need for a value addition mechanism, keeping in view the demand of consumers.

He expressed his concerns over the Punjab government’s decision to purchase 2.5 million ton of wheat this year, given that 4.5 million tons of wheat was stored in the province.

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Reader Comments (54)

  • Shahid
    May 7, 2012 - 7:10PM

    Another very important reason is the ‘milawat’ in all the food items here in Pakistan. Everything from stones to bricks to poisonous substances are added to our daily food items. May Allah help us because clearly we have reached the stage where mere mortals can’t do anything.

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  • ali
    May 7, 2012 - 7:12PM

    so have our characters

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  • Khurram
    May 7, 2012 - 7:13PM

    “Ahmad Khan, said that cousin marriages were also one of the reasons for the short stature of Pakistanis.”

    Not one of the reasons rather it is the only reason.

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  • shadi
    May 7, 2012 - 7:22PM

    so has our dignity.

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  • You Said It
    May 7, 2012 - 7:33PM

    Were there studies conducted in the 1960s, 1980s and 2012 to measure the heights of Pakistani citizens? Were the same control groups used in each study. It’s perplexing how this statement can be reported without statistical evidence. I can’t say for the heights, but surely our scientific study and media reporting standards have fallen in these 5 decades.

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  • ayesha_khan
    May 7, 2012 - 7:34PM

    @Khurram: Unless cousin marriages is a new phenomenon in the last 50 years it does not explain a reduction in height.

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  • Manto
    May 7, 2012 - 7:36PM

    Pakistanis are shorter by 4 inches but taller in personality, character , and spirits. Looking at comments I am impressed how Pakistanis are so much ready to self evaluate themselves. We Indians should learn this.

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  • geeko
    May 7, 2012 - 7:40PM

    From where were the samples taken, and the zone of studies have been constantly the same since five decades ? I really doubt it, and otherwise, how could you compare ? There’s obviously a gap between the urban-rural classes simply because of the standards of living, but four inches is quite a lot (if the average height’s 5’10”, imagine it falling to 5’6”…), and don’t really believe that – older peoples I meet says that the kids get taller nowadays.

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  • Babloo
    May 7, 2012 - 7:49PM

    Inbreeding is not good.Recommend

  • ASQ
    May 7, 2012 - 7:59PM

    another fake study done by our so called professors just to be in limelight!!!

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  • Zamir Malik
    May 7, 2012 - 8:01PM

    No way My Height is 6 feet 4 and in my family my all cousins have six feet of height and we are bigger than our ancestors right now. They should categorize according to different regions. The people of Karachi are smallest in my view followed by Adjacent regions of Lahore and Central Punjab and people of Potohar region, Mianwali, Sargodha and Khushab and some regions of North West are the biggest.

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  • Zamir Malik
    May 7, 2012 - 8:08PM

    @Babloo: Just shut up for a while. I am the produce of cousin marriage and I am more stronger and bigger than my parents and also My neighbors have a love marriage and their offsprings are manhandled by me on a daily basis and non-cousin marriage did not benefited them at all rather they decreased in height compared to their father. So your idea is absolutely wrong. Only if your families have some diseases then cousin marriage is not good otherwise it is fine.

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  • Sajida
    May 7, 2012 - 8:10PM

    Falling height is also a US problem.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/apr/04/usa
    Americans shrinking as junk food takes its toll
    Poverty and poor diet mean the average US man is getting smaller, while Europeans keep growing taller
    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=3293191
    America’s Growing Problem
    The reason is poor nutrition. I assume in Pakistan it is also because population has grown in the period also. So more people equals less food for individuals.

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  • American
    May 7, 2012 - 8:16PM

    The cousin marriages (at least 2nd cousin and beyond) causing a reduced height is nothing more than a myth. Cousin marriages are completely out of the norm in the West but I’m not going to use my personal bias to make up arguments against it.

    Scientifically there is no evidence for it, and from my own personal experience it didn’t matter whether the parents were cousins or not. Some kids did not reach the height of their parents and many were from non-cousin parents.

    Some races are shorter and its OK. However good nurture (through good nutrition and education of how to dress, behave, exercise, etc.) can go a long way in enhancing and bringing out the true beauty of any people.

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  • bs marwat
    May 7, 2012 - 9:09PM

    :p the tallest are pashtuns who still practice cousin marriages :p
    so why should i believe you doctor?

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  • Arooj
    May 7, 2012 - 9:30PM

    Kindly can anyone tell me that in rawalpindi pakistan is there any university offering BS food and nutrition??

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  • ather
    May 8, 2012 - 12:19AM

    just look at the cricket team of 80s and 90s. all were long and handsome. and look at the cricket team now. all are dwarfs compared to the 90s players. saeed anwar was the shortest player in 90s team. but if he had come to team now, he would be one of the tallest. the lack of height also affecting the batting and pace performence of the team.

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  • Ch Allah Daad
    May 8, 2012 - 12:28AM

    We Pakistanis are carrying the burden of whole Ummah.

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  • ayesha_khan
    May 8, 2012 - 12:31AM

    @You Said It, @geeko

    What you say makes a lot of sense. 4 inches in 5 years is difficult to believe. Particularly when the avergae life expectancy has more than doubled in South Asia.

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  • Ahmed
    May 8, 2012 - 12:48AM

    @ Zamir Malik…..see, you are 6’4″ and your cousins are 6’…height has decreased by 4″ in the same family in the same generation and you say scientists are wrong….

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  • yunus
    May 8, 2012 - 1:46AM

    Sorry but like many of the other commentators I don’t believe this BS. How can a newspaper publish without citing the actual details of the research?

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  • Imran Con
    May 8, 2012 - 2:12AM

    @ayesha_khan:
    Yes it does. It takes time to deteriorate the genes that extent.

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  • Imran Con
    May 8, 2012 - 2:13AM

    I read the rest of the comments after making that last comment. Nevermind. The cousin marriage has even killed the sense of the people reading it. Pointless.

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  • Adeel
    May 8, 2012 - 3:06AM

    Thank God we have some more evidence that we need to end this sad tradition of cousin marriages. It is bad for the kids (genetic issues are well documented) and is borderline incest. This is why it is banned in most ‘educated’ countries! For the masses, apni behan say kis tarhan shaadi kar saktay ho? Tauba tauba.

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  • Razi
    May 8, 2012 - 3:31AM

    Healthy outdoor activity for children has been overwhelmingly replaced by sitting in front of computer monitors and television. I don’t blame them, there are no recreation facilities available for them to go outside and play. Even if there was that rare piece of land….we always have the element of security. Its a compound problem.

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  • saeed
    May 8, 2012 - 3:59AM

    Population ,population,population. The way people reproducing in Pakistan, Height is a least problem.

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  • @plarkin
    May 8, 2012 - 4:17AM

    I guess you’ll be more like Indians now. In the past a clear differentiation between South Asians was the height. People from the north, i.e., Pakistan were taller compared to their Indian cousins.

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  • Mirza
    May 8, 2012 - 4:32AM

    Scientists are always wrong for most in Pakistan. I am sure the large majority does not believe in evolution either. Let us keep the inbreeding going. Nobody cares what consenting adults do, as long as they are responisble for their actions.

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  • May 8, 2012 - 11:23AM

    I find this research finding highly questionable.

    If malnourishment were an issue, the life expectancy in Pakistan would not have doubled since independence. Published data shows that life expectancy in Pakistan has jumped from 32 years in 1947 to 67 years in 2009, and per Capita inflation-adjusted PPP income has risen from $766 in 1948 to $2603 in 2009.

    http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/08/pakistans-story-after-64-years-of.html

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  • Aadi
    May 8, 2012 - 11:50AM

    I dont agree with the reason cousin marriage. Cousin marriege doesn’t harm anybody. Islam doesn’t say anything against it..

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  • G. Din
    May 8, 2012 - 5:57PM

    “Tall, Dark and Handsome!” as the saying goes.
    There goes the “Tall” part! Four inch chop off is quite a chunk!
    You can’t do much about the “Dark” part unless all Pakistanis migrate to chillier climes en masse and don’t do anything naughty to get deported back.
    Well, “Handsome” – not a measurable characteristic – is in the eyes of the beholder. If the beholder is a Pakistani, a self-opinionated self-important narcissist by his very nature, Pakistanis will always be handsome regardless of what the rest of the world thinks!

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  • IZ
    May 9, 2012 - 12:28AM

    Evidence? Is there a citable study or is this another Pakistani gentleman just making stuff up?

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  • geeko
    May 9, 2012 - 1:17AM

    @G. Din:
    Yes, we’re practically returning to our Indian roots.

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  • May 9, 2012 - 5:08AM

    This finding does not appear to be credible.

    All anecdotal evidence suggests that most Pakistani children are growing up to be taller than their parents. All one has to do is keep one’s eyes open & observe.

    The average height in Pakistan of 20 yrs old males is now 5′ 6″ vs 5′ 4″ in India. If one is to believe this “research”, then one must also believe that the avg height in Pakistan in 1960s was 5′ 10” which is simply untrue based on all known evidence, anecdotal or otherwise.

    In addition, if worsening malnutrition were indeed an issue, the life expectancy in Pakistan would not have doubled since independence. Published data shows that life expectancy in Pakistan has jumped from 32 years in 1947 to 67 years in 2009, and per Capita inflation-adjusted PPP income has risen from $766 in 1948 to $2603 in 2009.Recommend

  • muhajir
    May 9, 2012 - 3:00PM

    I dont think this research is correct. In my family I am 4.5 inches taller than my father. I am 5′ 11.5″. All of my cousins are taller than their fathers. One of my uncles is 6’1″ and his son is already 6’4″ at 15!! He may well reach 6′ 5″ (His parents are not happy btw). So I think the younger generation of Pakistanis are actually taller than the older generations. and I come from a proper Urdu Speaking muhajir family (to those who think Muhajirs are shorter than Pushtuns!)

    To indian trolls- Even if pakistanis were to become 4 inches shorter, they will still remain 4 inches taller than indians!!

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  • DrKhan
    May 9, 2012 - 5:59PM

    My opinion is that this is due to declining nutrition. The population of Pakistan has gone up from 30M to 192M in 60 years. I am not surprised. Someone pointed a while back to a UN report saying that declining indicies to welfare in Pakistan.

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  • joy
    May 9, 2012 - 6:08PM

    Mr Riaz Haq

    I am wondering how come you have not written a blog about this issue so far.......just one suggestion..dont worry about the height of Indians....think about your own country...

    regards

    Joy

    India

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  • Hella
    May 9, 2012 - 6:57PM

    This could be true because of increasing population of poor and under-nourished in Pakistan. So although heights of well fed Pakistanis is increasing, their percentage in the Pakistani population is decreasing. Thus leading to a decrease in average height although 4 inches seems to be on the higher side.

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  • B.Ally
    May 30, 2012 - 11:01AM

    Shorties are said to suffer Nepolian syndrome. A dangerous trait. May be that is why, the people world over are so much afraid of us.

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  • Swag
    May 30, 2012 - 12:34PM

    I don’t get this.

    I’m 6’2 and the tallest in my family and cousins are also around my height, and are taller than their parents.

    I think people are growing taller now.

    Many of my friends are much taller than their parents.

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  • Surender Pruthi
    Jun 15, 2012 - 6:13PM

    This assertion from a Pakistani health expert does not looks convincing.Malnutrition may cause ill-effects on the health-immunity but leaving a person short by 4″ is too much exaggeration.As well,to hold cousin marriages responsible for this,also sounds phoney.If this had been the case,even those Indian communities where such marriages are performed,may have been plagued by the same malady.This requires further research(s) before establishing the fact conclusively.With regards,Surender Pruthi,Sonipat(India).Recommend

  • Imran Ahmed
    Jun 22, 2012 - 9:15AM

    Fake science. Why does a national paper take notice of such bad “scientific” papers? Nepotism?

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  • ali
    Jun 22, 2012 - 8:51PM

    @Sajida:
    excellent post, dont let the media talk down this nation

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  • Khalid Rao
    Jun 23, 2012 - 2:40PM

    Cousin marriage , you made one reason that our heights are gone down,whereas I must point out that cousin marriages were more from 30, to ,70, so height of a normal Pakistani was at peak in these years. I think food is the major reason , we must increase in our intake more fruit & fiber with good flour of corn, wheat.

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  • Imran Ahmed
    Jun 23, 2012 - 6:38PM

    There is absolutely no reason to suspect that anything in this article is true as no factual or scientific study has been offered.
    Cousin marriages (consanguinous) have been extensively studied by real scientists, they are not generally considered conducive to good breeding practices.

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  • Zal
    Jun 23, 2012 - 7:44PM

    Consanguinous marraiges are disgusting. Take a look at Qatar, their genetic makeup is so distorted from cousin to cousin marriages that a disproportionately high number of births are genetically distorted and developmentally retarded.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16490156

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  • Jim Jones
    Jun 23, 2012 - 9:24PM

    There is no point in convicing Pakistanis that cousin marriage is bad. See the comments.

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  • Dr Shaikh
    Jun 24, 2012 - 6:10PM

    If the average height goes down it does not mean that the average went down for every group in Pakistan. For example, the height of the feudal or the officer class in the army could have gone up. The nutrition of the feudals has surely has improved.

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  • confused
    Jun 27, 2012 - 12:03PM

    Where was the study published because the article absolutely nothing about it except the caption. How was sampling done, did they correct for age, how did they weight the sample etc.

    All they do is talk about hokey remedies and are advertizing for Nestle and VITA

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  • lisa
    Jun 27, 2012 - 1:02PM

    One look at Pakistani cricket team says it all they are all short now.
    Gone are the days of tall cricketers like Imran / sarfaraz/mohsin etc.
    now its haeez, akmals butt etc

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  • Jun 27, 2012 - 5:38PM

    I am Punjabi-Mahajir mix and I am 6’2 , at least 3 inches taller than my father and so are rest of my cousins, I am not sure if we are shorter than our elders !!!

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  • Syed Faisal Imam
    Jun 28, 2012 - 1:24AM

    A direct result of corruption in our society.
    Never get the food in its pure form.
    Do not get the basic balanced diet.
    Milk in any form is gone.
    No lassi,no ghee,no milk.
    Chai, spices,sub-standard meat,veggies from sewerage,no exercise. No grounds,just corner plots.

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  • Jim
    Jun 29, 2012 - 2:35AM

    I don’t know about height of Pakistanis, but the stature of Pakistan and Pakistanis has certainly fallen across the world. Just go to any country in the world and ask them what they think of Pakistan — and that includes your “allies” China and Saudi Arabia. What has also fallen is the quality of scientific inquiry and critical thinking. Judging by the reader responses to this and other articles, Pakistan is full of semi-literate people who have no capacity for critical inquiry and rational discussion. Liberal, modernist, secular people are in a minority. Sad.

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