Health Buzz: European Men Now 4 Inches Taller Than in 1870s

How to save money on fitness; why iodine is important during pregnancy

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Study: Increased Average Male Heights in 15 European Countries Indicate Improved Health

The average height of European men today is about 4.3 inches taller than that of European men in the 1870s, according to an article published online in the Oxford Economic Papers on Sept. 1. Researchers analyzed height data for 15 European countries, some of which dated back to cohorts born in the 1860s and 1870s. The data revealed a fairly consistent increase in average male heights up until the cohort of men born between 1976 and 1980. For middle and northern European countries, researchers found that average male height increased the fastest in the period spanning World War I, World War II and the Great Depression, whereas male heights in southern Europe increased the fastest after the wars.

"The evidence suggests that improvements in the disease environment, as reflected in infant mortality, is the single most important factor driving the increase in height," the article author states. He adds that there are many other factors that play into this increase in average height, including education, family size, transport infrastructure, social services and health systems, although there are also a few other reasons for the increase that, for now, are simply unknown.

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  • How to Save Money on Fitness

    Go ahead and lose some blood, sweat and tears in the name of fitness. But cash? Despite sky-high costs at some gyms – up to thousands of dollars per year – you don't need to spend a fortune to work out. U.S. News consulted fitness bloggers who have perfected the art of saving on their workouts. Consider this advice, and your pocketbook will thank you. So will your abs.

    Compare costs. More than one gym in your town? Good. Find out what each has to offer, and then ask your favorite if it will meet or beat the fees of its competitors. Always do this in person – over the phone won't suffice. And don't overlook options like the YMCA, schools, neighborhood clubs, temples and churches, too. These are often among the most cost-friendly options. Some yoga studios are also adopting a donation-based approach; though there's usually a $10 suggested donation per class, you can drop whatever you can afford into the box.

    Show up during the slow season. When gyms are flooded with new patrons – around New Year's and during colder months when running outside isn't such a good idea – they don't need your money. That means they're less likely to cut newbies a deal. Specials and discounts are much more common during the summer and fall. [Read more: How to Save Money on Fitness]

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    • Why Iodine is Important During Pregnancy

      In the history of nutrition science, iodine is part of a public health triumph story, writes U.S. News blogger Melinda Johnson. Prior to the 1920s, certain segments of our population had severe iodine deficiency – even disqualifying many men from military service in World War I. So, the United States implemented a simple program: Iodine was added to table salt. This act served to virtually eliminate the problem of severe iodine deficiency in our country. Since then, iodine receives little attention as a potential problem nutrient. However, emerging research is beginning to raise alarms among scientists that perhaps we need to look closer at mild to moderate iodine deficiency, especially in pregnant and breastfeeding women.

      Iodine is a mineral that is found naturally in the soil of coastal areas. A deficiency in iodine causes problems with the thyroid gland, and people who suffer from a severe iodine deficiency will develop a noticeable goiter. More troubling than this, severe iodine deficiency worldwide is the single greatest cause of preventable mental retardation, causing a condition known as cretinism. While the impact of this severe deficiency is well-documented, mild to moderate iodine deficiency is more subtle and less understood.