Milk: good for all, for centuries

13 April 2010

The average height of Europeans through the ages gives an indication of the nutritional value of their food and of their general health. A study conducted by Oxford University reveals that the amount of milk consumed by Europeans has had an impact on their height.

According to the study, the nutritional value of our food in Roman times was quite low, likely due to high population density. As centuries passed, however, the nutritional value of the food eaten by Europeans improved. An important factor in this improvement was milk consumption made possible by more advanced agricultural methods. There is a strong correlation between the rise of agriculture, increases in milk consumption and increases in average European height, according to the researcher Nikola Koepke.

Skeletal study
The ‘anthropometric’ method that Koepke used for her research, which combined biology and archeology, appears to prove the premise that increases in bone length through the ages were caused by dietary improvements.
Koepke measured more than eighteen thousand skeletons from 484 archaeological digs throughout Europe during the study. “Increases in milk consumption, derived from the number of cows, had a positive impact on average height”, writes Koepke. “This is also the reason for the significant regional differences in average height in Europe today.”