Citing statistics from Odense University Hospital (OUH) and Copenhagen’s Rigshospitalet, the newspaper wrote that Denmark’s children’s wards have seen a three- to fourfold increase over the past 15 years in the number of parents who are concerned about the height of their male children. Other doctors from across Denmark confirmed the trend.
The desire to boost their sons’ growth comes despite the fact that “Danish children have never been taller”, according to Jørgen Schou, the head doctor at OUH’s children’s ward.
“We are seeing parents who are worried [about their children’s height] and more likely to have their children tested earlier in life than in the past. Parents who want to optimize their children’s chances in life,” Schou told Kristeligt Dagblad.
Most of the children being brought in for consultation are still in their primary school years and Schou said that many parents seem to think that 175cm is the ideal height for their children. If their sons aren’t on pace for that, they worry that they will have trouble finding a mate or advancing their career.
He said that parents often come in to explicitly request growth hormones for their sons but have their requests turned down. Simply being short for one’s age isn’t enough to qualify for growth hormones.
“We have clear guidelines for who can be offered growth hormones,” Anders Juul from Rigshopital told Kristeligt Dagblad.
Juul said that it is often well-off parents who request the growth hormone treatment, something that was backed up by Kristen Holm, the head of the children’s ward at Nordsjællands Hospital in Hillerød, one of the wealthiest areas in Denmark.
“I regularly encounter parents of healthy children who are not satisfied with their children’s height. There is enormous prestige associated with being tall,” she told Kristeligt Dagblad, adding that parents often refuse to take no for an answer and say that they will buy growth hormones online.
The vast majority of young Danish men – a full 95 percent – are between 168cm (5’ 6”) and 194cm (6’4”) which is considered ‘normal’ in Denmark.
According to a 2014 report, Danish men are the third tallest in the world with an average height of 180.6cm (5’ 11”).