Myth Busting: Being Big and Tall Doesn’t Make You Healthier Or More Athletic

Jul 14, 2022

Please note that the following article is a written response to this article that was published by Sports Illustrated. 

When did being big and tall become the marker for good health and athleticism? Sure, being larger than your opponent might give you a competitive edge. Maybe your longer legs help you jump higher, or your height makes it easier to dunk a basketball. But what happens when the game ends?

The Science Behind Height

Research suggests that being taller is not correlated with better health. In fact, smaller people have better health and longevity by multiple markers. The Okinawans, touted for their health and large proportion of centenarians, eat less, and are smaller than the mainland Japanese population. Yet, they remain active into their old age, live longer, and have lower incidences of heart disease and cancer than mainlanders.1

The Okinawans are not an outlier. Other countries and ethnicities show similar trends, as indicated by studies on populations in Sardinia, Spain, and Sweden, among others.2-4

being taller doesn't equate to being healthier

Science shows that being taller doesn’t equate to being healthier

Being Bigger Doesn’t Mean Being Healthier

Is it actually healthier to be bigger? The short answer: no. A study sponsored by the American Institute of Cancer Research concluded that taller height was strongly and consistently related to increased cancer risk.5

The larger a person is, the more cells they have. Some cells have a limited number of replications over a lifetime. In taller bodies, these cells need to replicate more frequently, reaching their end sooner. Therefore, a taller person may be at a health disadvantage because some cells may not be available to repair damage to tissues and organs, ultimately reducing the functionality of certain organs.2

Along similar lines, studies report people in taller bodies have shorter length telomeres than their shorter-bodied counterparts. Longer telomeres have been linked to greater longevity and better overall health, again putting the smaller people at an inherent health advantage compared to taller people.6

A Myth Fueled By The Dairy Industry

With the bounty of evidence suggesting being taller is not healthier, why is it still desirable? It’s perhaps understandable, since the dairy industry has perpetuated the myth that taller and bigger is better for more than a century, and no one ever asked any questions.

And what about the more immediate negative health consequences of drinking cow’s milk, such as worsening asthma symptoms, systemic inflammation, and slowed blood flow to working muscles?7-9

Cow’s Milk Hurts Humans

When we look at the evidence, cow’s milk has serious negative effects on general health and is an underlying factor in numerous chronic diseases. But the most alarming truth about dairy, as it relates to an athletic audience, is that dairy impedes athletic performance—and it all starts in the gut. Microbiome dysbiosis is a chronic issue whose genesis can be closely linked to a diet rich in dairy products.

What You Need To Know About Lactose Intolerance

And it is no wonder, as 68% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant, with lactose being one of the sugars found in dairy products. There is a much higher incidence of lactose intolerance among people of African, Latin, and Asian descent, as well as other non-white minorities. Lactose intolerance can exacerbate congestion, stomach cramping, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and unwanted skin rashes; all symptoms that can seriously negatively affect a great training session or a peak performance.

milk is not a good workout recovery drink

Lactose intolerance negatively affects training sessions and peak performance

Out of the 5,000 different mammalian species, human beings are the only mammals that continue to drink milk after weaning, and then they drink it from another species. Since we tend to follow cultural norms, brought to us by the people who are profiting from our lazily believing them, never stopping to think and question the validity of their claims or why we do what they tell us.

Cow’s Milk Makes Us Bigger, But It Doesn’t “Do A Body Good”

It’s true that cow’s milk can make us bigger. After all, that’s its purpose. Dr. Michael Klaper grew up on a dairy farm in northern Wisconsin, where he began milking cows when he was eight years old. He says, “several things are now clear to me. The purpose of cow’s milk is to turn a 65-pound calf into a 700-pound cow as rapidly as possible. Cow’s milk IS baby calf growth fluid. No matter what you do to it, that is what the stuff is. Everything in that white liquid—the hormones, the lipids, the proteins, the sodium, the growth factors like IGF-1 are all there to start that calf growing into a great big cow, or else they would not be there. Whether you pour it on your cereal as a liquid, churn it into butter, curdle it into yogurt, ferment it into cheese, or add sugar and freeze it to make ice cream… It’s baby calf growth fluid!”

Cow’s milk’s sole purpose is to increase weight and promote growth in tissues throughout the mammalian body. It’s great stuff if you are a baby calf, but if you are a human trying to create a lean, healthy body, it does not “do a body good.”

Article written by: Dotsie Bausch & Tiffany Bruno


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/674107/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22582890/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15374439/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15249762/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31758189/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18245759/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30178886/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6342280/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15932382/

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