Top Tall People Problems

As any tall person would agree, there are a lot of tall people problems out there. As a memento of our torment, I believe us worthy of our very own Tall People Problems poster. I commissioned a talented illustrator (over 2m (6'7") tall himself so he can relate) to do the drawings that you all voted to be the biggest tall people problems.

When you subscribe by email for the blog, you get a free PDF of the tall people problems poster. Give a print off to a friend, hang it in your office, on the fridge, or wherever you feel an appropriate place to display our various tall predicaments!

Tall People Problems Poster

Tall People Problem #1 Not enough legroom in airplane seats
  1. Legroom on buses, planes, trains
  2. The Question: "Wow you're tall, how tall are you?"
  3. Sinks and counters are too low
  4. Slouching for social reasons and to hear better

  5. Tall People Problem #5 Desks are too small
  6. Desks, chairs, furniture are too small
  7. Bad headroom, legroom, visibility in cars

  8. Tall People Problem #7 Dont' fit in bathtubs
  9. Bathtubs too small

  10. Tall People Problem #8 Dumb Jokes
  11. Bad jokes: "How's the weather up there?"
  12. Feet hanging off the bed

  13. Tall People Problem #10 Always blocking peoples views
  14. Blocking other people's view
  15. Always got to be in the back for photos
  16. Hugs are awkward
  17. Seeing over the bathroom stall
  18. Can't see your face in the mirror
  19. Back pain
  20. Having to order stuff online
  21. Having to duck for tree branches
  22. Walk faster than others with your long legs
  23. Too easily spotted in a crowd
  24. Get light headed when you stand up
  25. Trouble finding shoes
  26. Hitting your head on doorways
  27. Can't stretch out on couches
  28. Spider webs in the face
  29. Being asked to grab stuff all the time
  30. Getting mauled by umbrellas
  31. Accidental footsies
  32. Shovels and other tools too short
  33. Cold extremities (fingers)
  34. Deep end of the pool isn't deep

  35. Tall People Problem #31 Tall Awkward Dancing
  36. Dancing issues
  37. Can't stand straight and hold a kid's hand
  38. Little guys want to fight
  39. Putt-putt clubs too short
  40. Too tall for amusement park rides
  41. Tend to break stuff a lot
  42. Tripping people
  43. So many injuries
  44. Often cut out of photographs
  45. Expensive feeding yourself
  46. Everyone wants a piggy back
  47. Feet hang out of tent

Tall People and the Body Mass Index: Tall, Skinny, and Obese?

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) advices that excessive body fat corresponds with higher risk of various diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers [1]. The question posed by this post is whether the common assessment index, the body mass index (BMI), translates correctly for tall people.

Measuring Body Fat To Assess Health

The body mass index (BMI) is the most popular index used to assess healthy weight, and assumes a quadratic relationship between mass and height. The formula for the BMI was first conceived by Adolphe Quitelet  (then known as the Quitelet index) and related in such works as, "A Treatise On Man". The formula became known as the BMI after Ancel Keys' 1972 publication, "Indices of relative weight and obesity" [2]. Below are the metric and imperial versions of the index and the evaluation table as suggested by the NIH [1].
Metric (kg and m): BMI = Mass ÷ Height2
Imperial (lbs and in): BMI = 703 x Mass ÷ Height2

UnderweightBMI <= 18.5
Normal weightBMI = 18.5–24.9
OverweightBMI = 25–29.9
ObesityBMI >= 30

BMI for Tall People Chart

A common criticism of the BMI is that it disregards body composition. Muscle is denser than fat, and thus a muscular person will have a misleadingly high BMI despite having a body fat content not unconducive to good health. This short coming limits the usefulness of the index. Another issue is that the BMI is not specific to gender nor ethnicity, despite women generally having a higher body fat percentage and healthy BMI varying between ethnicities (Asians with increased BMI are at greater risk for type 2 diabetes [4]).

For tall people, there is yet another potential problem, and that is that the relationship between mass and height suggested by the BMI formula may be in error. Though there have been studies finding a quadratic relationship [3], there are many that report higher order relationships. Thomas Samaras, the author of "Human Body Size and the Laws of Scaling", is adamant, from his study of the literature, that the relationship is cubic. In other words, he suggests that as humans scale, proportions remain similar (isometric scaling).

affiliate link
Samaras went on to suggest a correction factor where the BMI cutoff values are scaled by the same percentage as height is above average. Anecdotally, I am 2m (6'7") and 100kg (220lbs) giving me a BMI of 25 and thus borderline overweight. If you've looked at any pictures of me on this site, you will clearly see that I am most definitely not overweight. By using Samaras's correction factor, my adjusted BMI overweight cutoff becomes 29. Now that is more plausible.

Corrected BMI for Tall People Chart
Corrected BMI Overweight Cutoff VS height as suggested in, "Human Body Size and the Laws of Scaling (average human height used in the chart: 5'7")
The severity of the discrepancy between reported mass-height relationships suggests a need for further studies and research into the matter. In the mean time, if you are a tall person wanting to evaluate and/or track the healthiness of your weight, your safer bet would be to use an alternate to the BMI, such as the Waist-Hip ratio or maybe even get a fat measuring caliper.

Fat Measuring Caliper (affiliate link)

[1] National Institute of Health, Assessing Your Weight and Health Risk.
[2] A. Keys, F. Fidanza, M. J. Karvonen, N. Noboru, H. L. Taylor, Indices of relative weight and obesity, Journal of Chronic Disease, vol. 25, pp. 329-343, 1972.
[3] Diverse populations collabritive group, Weight-height relationships and body mass index: some observations from the Diverse Populations Collaboration, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 128, pp. 220-229, 2005.
[4] I. Shai, R. Jiang, J. Manson, Ethnicity, obesity, and risk of type 2 diabetes in women: a 20-year follow-up study. Diabetes Care. 2006