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Understanding the impact of statural height on health-related quality of life in German adolescents: a population-based analysis


Improving health-related quality of life (HrQoL) is one aim of growth hormone treatment for short-statured patients. Yet, evidence of the relationship between height and HrQoL is inconclusive, especially for young people. This study investigates the association of height and HrQoL in the general German adolescent population. A total of 6646 adolescents and 6388 parents from the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KIGGS) were included in the analysis. An analysis of covariance was used to evaluate the effect of height deviation on HrQoL as assessed with the KINDL-R in adolescent self-report and parent-report, taking into account sociodemographic and health-related variables. Height was found to be a weak predictor of HrQoL in both adolescent-report and parent-report. Short and tall adolescents did not substantially differ from the normal statured. Sociodemographic and health-related variables failed to significantly interact with height. In contrast, psychosocial variables contributed to the explained HrQoL variance.

Conclusion: Height does not appear to be a strong determinant of HrQoL on the population level. These results suggest that the height gain in short stature treatment may not be the most important objective. Contrary to prevalent stereotypes, short adolescents can experience a high HrQoL.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2



Body mass index




Special health care needs


Growth hormone


Growth hormone deficiency


Health-related quality of life

Height SDS:

Height standard deviation scores


German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents


Minimum European Health Module




Standard deviation


Strength and difficulties questionnaire


Socioeconomic status


Short stature


Social support scale


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Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflict of interests. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the paper. Authors received no compensation for their contributions to this manuscript.

Statement of human rights

Ethical approval: The German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KIGGS) survey has been approved by the ethics committee of the University Hospital Charité at the Humboldt University Berlin and has therefore been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

Informed consent

Informed consent: All adult persons—as parents and for their underage children gave their informed consent prior to their inclusion in the study. Details that might disclose the identity of the subjects under study were omitted.

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Correspondence to Rachel Sommer.

Additional information

Communicated by Jaan Toelen

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Sommer, R., Daubmann, A., Quitmann, J. et al. Understanding the impact of statural height on health-related quality of life in German adolescents: a population-based analysis. Eur J Pediatr 174, 875–882 (2015).

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  • Height
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Short stature
  • KIGGS health survey
  • Adolescents