A century of trends in adult human height

Peter Bjerregaard (Member of author group), Anna Bugge (Member of author group), Kaare Christensen (Member of author group), Camilla T Damsgaard (Member of author group), Louise Eriksen (Member of author group), Anders Grøntved (Member of author group), Jytte Halkjær (Member of author group), Torben Jørgensen (Member of author group), Allan Linneberg (Member of author group), Kim F Michaelsen (Member of author group), Drude Molbo (Member of author group), Niels Christian Møller (Member of author group), Erik Lykke Mortensen (Member of author group), Merete Osler (Member of author group), Kim Overvad (Member of author group), Ida Maria Schmidt (Member of author group), Thorkild IA Sørensen (Member of author group), Line Tang (Member of author group), Jakob Tarp (Member of author group), Betina Heinsbæk Thuesen (Member of author group)Anne Tjønneland, Janne Schurmann Tolstrup, Esther Zimmermann, NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC)

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Being taller is associated with enhanced longevity, and higher education and earnings. We reanalysed 1472 population-based studies, with measurement of height on more than 18.6 million participants to estimate mean height for people born between 1896 and 1996 in 200 countries. The largest gain in adult height over the past century has occurred in South Korean women and Iranian men, who became 20.2 cm (95% credible interval 17.5-22.7) and 16.5 cm (13.3-19.7) taller, respectively. In contrast, there was little change in adult height in some sub-Saharan African countries and in South Asia over the century of analysis. The tallest people over these 100 years are men born in the Netherlands in the last quarter of 20th century, whose average heights surpassed 182.5 cm, and the shortest were women born in Guatemala in 1896 (140.3 cm; 135.8-144.8). The height differential between the tallest and shortest populations was 19-20 cm a century ago, and has remained the same for women and increased for men a century later despite substantial changes in the ranking of countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13410
Issue number2016JULY
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 26. Jul 2016


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