Monday, April 5, 2010

Tall Tuesday: U.S. Underperforms in Height

I found the original report that Arianne Cohen references in her book about the U.S.'s decline in average height. You can download a PDF of the full report with the statistical data and graphs here. The report is by John Komlos and is titled, "Underperformance in affluence: the remarkable relative decline in American heights in the second half of the 20th-century."

The U.S. ranks 7th in terms of the average male height behind such countries as the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, West Germany, Sweden, Finland, Belgium (all unfairly represented as a viking) and Canada. Komlos' report only shows data on the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and West Germany. Up until the early 20th century the U.S. was on top of the world in terms of height, but then, despite our superpower status and wealth, we've slowly dropped in height and gained in girth. To quote from the report's abstract as to one reason why this may have occurred:

"Conclusion: We conjecture that the American health-care system, as well as the relatively weak welfare safety net might be the reason why human growth in the United States has not performed as well in relative terms as one would expect on the basis of income. The comparative pattern bears some similarly to that of life expectancy insofar as the US is also lagging behind in that respect."
All of the countries taller than the U.S. have some form of universal health care. Having travelled to Europe they generally eat smaller portions and walk much more than Americans due to the layouts of their towns and cities. So for all those opposed to the new health care reform, think of it as trying to grow Americans to their full potential!

About the art:
It was all done in ArtRage3 Studio Pro. I was going to do a line up of an American Bald Eagle, a crowned lion to represent several of the Scandinavian countries and a black eagle for Germany but opted for the viking and Uncle Sam instead. I'm continuing to experiment with coloring. The color was added with the pastel tool over a diagonal hatched paper texture. The inking was done with the marker tool set at 96% pressure, 75% softness and 15% wetness.

Once again I've updated the art. I thought the pastel with the ink looked to blah. So I added a layer underneath the pastel and added more color with the marker tool. Here is a detail of the result.

When looking for Uncle Sam references I came across this image.

It was created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1917 during World War I. It wouldn't be a bad idea to bring these kind of posters and ads back in support of Michelle Obama's war on obesity, but it would probably be killed by the agribusiness lobby and Tea Partiers who would call it socialist and part of the liberal totalitarian government. That being said Big Tall Uncle Ken says, "Chow down on those fruits and veggies today!"

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