The tallest man to ever walk the Earth was 2.72 m (8’9″) tall, and he quickly became an international sensation.
So can you imagine what life would be like if you grew to be almost double that height?

If you kept growing until you were 5 m (16’4″) tall, you’d be half as tall as a telephone pole, three times as tall as a refrigerator, and two and a half times the size of Shaquille O’Neal. How would you navigate a world built for smaller people?

Would everyone treat you like a freak? Or could you use your size to skyrocket to power?

When most people think of being really tall, they imagine a world full of the usual perks associated with height, but the reality is that these benefits stop at a certain point. Standing at 5 m (16’4″) tall, you’d be a walking world record, and people would treat you accordingly.

Human bodies aren’t built to be this big; not only would your size make simple physical activities difficult, but it would also slow down your neurological processes. So how long could you realistically survive?

Aside from growing up too close to a nuclear power plant, the most likely reason you’d ever reach anywhere near 5 m (16’4″) tall is if you had something called extreme gigantism. Extreme gigantism is a rare phenomenon that has a few possible causes.

The most common is pituitary gigantism, which is caused by an oversecretion of growth hormones from cells in the pituitary gland or the presence of a tumor on this gland. The tallest human in recorded history is the Illinois-born Robert Wadlow, who stood at 2.72 m (8’11″).

He died at just 22 years of age, due to complications from an infected blister caused by a faulty leg brace. Robert’s case is just one example of how difficult life can be for extremely tall people.

Living at these incredible heights brings all sorts of health consequences with it: some of them are good, but most of them are bad. Let’s start with the good. If you grew to be 5 m (16’4″) tall, you could eat almost as much food as you want without suffering the typical weight gain consequences.

As your height reached giant levels, your metabolic rate would increase drastically, meaning you would need far more food for sustenance. Being extremely tall would also decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and the benefits pretty much stop there.

As your body shot up in size and gained mass, your bones would have a difficult time keeping up in order to support your new weight. Even with mechanical assistance to help you walk around, you’d need to be extremely cautious where you walked, as soft surfaces like soil could collapse beneath your weight.

And the fun’s just getting started! Other things that would come along with your new-found height would be an increased risk of blood clots and cancer, a deeper voice, and a much lower nerve impulse rate.

That means that your nerve signals would be sent to the brain at a much slower speed, resulting in more delayed reactions, and difficulty with conversations, activities, and processing visual infomation. Add to that the fact that most of the world isn’t built to accommodate you, and this whole thing starts to look like more of a curse than a blessing.

Subscribe to What-If on YouTube or follow the show on Facebook Watch.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments