The Research report published in the Journal of eLife has found out that an average Ugandan man is a few centimeters shorter today than in the 1970s, according to new research; and when it comes to height Dutch men and Latvian women tower over all other nationalities, a study reveals. The research has been tracking growth trends in 187 countries since 1914.
The findings show that the average Dutchman is now 183cm (6ft) tall, while the average Latvian woman reaches 170cm (5ft 7in).
It found out that Iranian men and South Korean women have had the biggest spurts, increasing their height by an average of more than 16cm (6in) and 20cm (8in).
However, the height charts are now utterly dominated by European countries, but the data would suggest that growth trends in general in the West have largely levelled out.
The smallest men on the planet are to be found in East Timor (160cm; 5ft 3in).
The world’s smallest women are in Guatemala, a status they also held back in 1914. According to the survey data, a century ago the average Guatemalan 18-year-old female was 140cm (4ft 7in). Today she has still not quite reached 150cm (4ft 11in).
East Asia has seen some of the biggest increases. People in Japan, China and South Korea are much taller than they were 100 years ago.
“The parts of the world where people haven’t got particularly taller over this 100 years of analysis are in South Asia (such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) and in sub-Saharan Africa. Here the increase in height is between 1-6cm in those regions,” explained co-author James Bentham from Imperial College London.
The report continues to say that parts of sub-Saharan Africa, average heights have actually fallen since the 1970s. Nations like Uganda and Sierra Leone have seen a few centimetres come off the height of the average man.
Lead scientist Majid Ezzati, also from Imperial, told BBC News that, “about a third of the explanation could be genes, but that doesn’t explain the change over time. Genes don’t change that fast and they don’t vary that much across the world. So changes over time and variations across the world are largely environmental. That’s at the whole population level versus for any individual whose genes clearly matter a lot.”
Good standards of healthcare, sanitation, and nutrition were the key drivers, he said. Also important is the mother’s health and nutrition during pregnancy.
Other research has shown that height is correlated with both positive outcomes and a few negative ones.
Tall people tend to have a longer life expectancy, with a reduced risk of heart disease. On the other hand, there is some evidence that they are at greater risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal, postmenopausal breast and ovarian cancers.