If young girls are worried about not growing up to be tall like a supermodel, that anxiety could of itself keep them shorter by stunting growth, according to researchers. In fact, anxious girls may grow up to be as much as 2 inches shorter than non-anxious girls, Dr. Daniel Pine, a psychiatrist with the New York State Psychiatric Institute, reported in the June issue of Pediatrics.
In a nine-year study of 700 children, he found that anxious girls were about twice as likely as non-anxious girls to be under 5 foot 4 as adults. Pine and his colleagues theorize that anxiety inhibits the body's production of growth hormone. Other studies have shown that growth hormone secretion is blunted in some adults with panic disorders.