The latest study of population height shows most countries with male and females getting taller. The US used to have the tallest people but the tallest men are now in the Netherlands at an average of 6 feet tall.
Men born in 1996 surpass average heights of 181 cm in the Netherlands, Belgium, Estonia, Latvia and Denmark, with Dutch men, at 182.5 cm (180.6–184.5), the tallest people on the planet. The gap with the shortest countries – Timor-Leste, Yemen and Laos, where men are only ~160 cm tall – is 22–23 cm, an increase of ~4 cm on the global gap in the 1896 birth cohort. Australia was the only non-European country where men born in 1996 were among the 25 tallest in the world. Women born in 1996 are shortest in Guatemala, with an average height of 149.4 cm (148.0–150.8), and are shorter than 151 cm in the Philippines, Bangladesh and Nepal. The tallest women live in Latvia, the Netherlands, Estonia and Czech Republic, with average height surpassing 168 cm, creating a 20 cm global gap in women’s height
The tallest women average 5 feet 6 inches.
Greater height in adulthood is both beneficially (cardiovascular and respiratory diseases) and harmfully (colorectal, postmenopausal breast and ovarian cancers, and possibly pancreatic, prostate and premenopausal breast cancers) associated with several diseases, independently of its inverse correlation with BMI
The ~20 cm height range in the world is associated with a 17% lower risk of cardiovascular mortality and 20–40% higher risk of various site-specific cancers, in tall versus short countries.
The pace of growth in height has not been uniform over the past century. The impressive rise in height in Japan stopped in people born after the early 1960s. In South Korea, the flattening began in the cohorts born in the 1980s for men and it may have just begun in women. As a result, South Korean men and women are now taller than their Japanese counterparts. The rise is continuing in other East and Southeast Asian countries like China and Thailand, with Chinese men and women having surpassed the Japanese (but not yet as tall as South Koreans). The rise in adult height also seems to have plateaued in South Asian countries like Bangladesh and India at much lower levels than in East Asia, e.g., 5–10 cm shorter than it did in Japan and South Korea.
Increases in European men’s heights in the 19th and 20th century have been highlighted, we found that the largest gains since the 1896 birth cohort occurred in South Korean women and Iranian men, who became 20.2 cm (17.5–22.7) and 16.5 cm (13.3–19.7) taller, respectively. As a result, South Korean women moved from the fifth shortest to the top tertile of tallest women in the world over the course of a century. Men in South Korea also had large gains relative to other countries, by 15.2 cm (12.3–18.1). There were also large gains in height in Japan, Greenland, some countries in Southern Europe (e.g., Greece) and Central Europe (e.g., Serbia and Poland, and for women Czech Republic). In contrast, there was little gain in height in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
On average the world is about 3 to 4 inches taller. The countries with most gains at 5 to 6 inches taller va low gainers at 1 to 2 inches.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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