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Human height or stature is the distance from the bottom of the feet to the top of the head in a
human body The human body is the structure of a Human, human being. It is composed of many different types of Cell (biology), cells that together create Tissue (biology), tissues and subsequently organ systems. They ensure homeostasis and the life, viabi ...

human body
, standing erect. It is measured using a
stadiometer A stadiometer is a piece of medical equipment used for measuring human height. It is usually constructed out of a ruler and a sliding horizontal headpiece which is adjusted to rest on the top of the head. Stadiometers are used in routine medical exa ...
, usually in centimetres when using the
metric system The metric system is a system of measurement A system of measurement is a collection of units of measurement and rules relating them to each other. Systems of measurement have historically been important, regulated and defined for the purpose ...

metric system
, or feet and inches when using
United States customary units United States customary units form a system of measurement units commonly used in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental Uni ...
or the
imperial system The imperial system of units, imperial system or imperial units (also known as British Imperial or Exchequer Standards of 1826) is the system of units A system of measurement is a collection of units of measurement A unit of measureme ...
. In the early phase of anthropometric research history, questions about height techniques for measuring nutritional status often concerned genetic differences. Height is also important because it is closely correlated with other health components, such as life expectancy. Studies show that there is a correlation between small stature and a longer life expectancy. Individuals of small stature are also more likely to have lower blood pressure and are less likely to acquire cancer. The University of Hawaii has found that the "longevity gene" FOXO3 that reduces the effects of aging is more commonly found in individuals of a small body size. Short stature decreases the risk of venous insufficiency. When populations share genetic background and environmental factors, average height is frequently characteristic within the group. Exceptional height variation (around 20% deviation from average) within such a population is sometimes due to
gigantism Gigantism ( el, γίγας, ''gígas'', " giant", plural γίγαντες, ''gígantes''), also known as giantism, is a condition characterized by excessive growth and height significantly above average. In humans, this condition is caused by ove ...
or
dwarfism Dwarfism occurs when an organism is exceptionally small. In humans, it is sometimes defined as Short stature, an adult height of less than , regardless of sex; the average adult height among people with dwarfism is , although some individuals ...
, which are medical conditions caused by specific
gene In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mecha ...

gene
s or
endocrine The endocrine system is a messenger system comprising feedback loops of the hormone A hormone (from the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Re ...
abnormalities. The development of human height can serve as an indicator of two key welfare components, namely nutritional quality and health. In regions of poverty or warfare, environmental factors like chronic
malnutrition Malnutrition is 'a state of nutrition in which a deficiency or excess (or imbalance) of energy, protein and other nutrients causes measurable adverse effect on tissue and body form (body shape, size and composition) and function and clinical ou ...
during childhood or adolescence may result in delayed growth and/or marked reductions in adult stature even without the presence of any of these medical conditions. Height is a
sexually dimorphic Sexual dimorphism is the condition where the sexes of the same species exhibit different characteristics, particularly characteristics not directly involved in reproduction. The condition occurs in most animals and some plants. Differences may in ...
trait in humans. A study of 20th century British natality trends indicated that while tall men tended to reproduce more than short men, women of below average height had more children than taller women.


Determinants of growth and height

The study of height is known as ''
auxology Auxology,(from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximatel ...
''. Growth has long been recognized as a measure of the
health Health, according to the World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations and each ...

health
of individuals, hence part of the reasoning for the use of growth charts. For individuals, as indicators of health problems, growth trends are tracked for significant deviations and growth is also monitored for significant deficiency from genetic expectations. Genetics is a major factor in determining the height of individuals, though it is far less influential in regard to differences among populations. Average height is relevant to the measurement of the health and wellness (
standard of living Standard of living is the level of income, comforts and services available, generally applied to a society or location, rather than to an individual. Standard of living is relevant because it is considered to contribute to an individual's qualit ...
and
quality of life Quality of life (QOL) is defined by the World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United N ...

quality of life
) of populations. Attributed as a significant reason for the trend of increasing height in parts of Europe are the egalitarian populations where proper
medical care Healthcare is the maintenance or improvement of health Health, according to the World Health Organization, is "a state of complete physical, Mental health, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity".World ...

medical care
and adequate nutrition are relatively equally distributed. The uneven distribution of nutritional resources makes it more plausible for individuals with better access to resources to grow taller, while the other population group who does not have so much of a nutritious food availability height growth is not as promising. Average (male) height in a nation is correlated with
protein quality Protein quality is the digestibility and quantity of essential amino acid An essential amino acid, or indispensable amino acid, is an amino acid that cannot be synthesized from scratch by the organism fast enough to supply its demand, and must t ...
. Nations that consume more protein in the form of
meat Meat is animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotroph, consume organic material, Cellular respiratio ...

meat
,
dairy A dairy is a business enterprise Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (such as goods and services). Simply put, it is "any activity or enterprise entered into for profi ...

dairy
,
eggs Egg An egg is the organic vessel containing the in which an develops until it can survive on its own, at which point the animal hatches. An egg results from of an . Most s, (excluding s), and lay eggs, although some, such as s, do ...
, and
fish Fish are aquatic Aquatic means relating to water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere and the ...

fish
tend to be taller, while those that obtain more protein from
cereals A cereal is any grass Poaceae () or Gramineae () is a large and nearly ubiquitous family of monocotyledonous flowering plants known as grasses. It includes the cereal grasses, bamboo Bamboos are a diverse group of evergreen perenn ...

cereals
tend to be shorter. Therefore, populations with high cattle per capita and high consumption of dairy live longer and are taller. Historically, this can be seen in the cases of the United States, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia in the beginning of the 19th century. Moreover, when the production and consumption of milk and beef is taken to consideration, it can be seen why the Germanic people who lived outside of the “imperium Romanum” were taller than those who lived at the heart of the Empire. Changes in
diet Diet may refer to: Food * Diet (nutrition) In nutrition, diet is the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism. The word diet often implies the use of specific intake of nutrition for #Health, health or #Weight management, weight-mana ...
(nutrition) and a general rise in quality of health care and standard of living are the cited factors in the Asian populations. Malnutrition including chronic undernutrition and acute malnutrition is known to have caused
stunted growth Stunted growth is a reduced growth rate in human developmentHuman development may refer to: * Development of the human body * Developmental psychology * Human development (economics) * Human Development Index, an index used to rank countries by ...
in various populations. This has been seen in North Korea, parts of Africa, certain historical Europe, and other populations.
Developing countries A developing country is a sovereign state with a less developed Industrial sector, industrial base and a low Human Development Index (HDI) relative to other countries. However, this definition is not universally agreed upon. There is also no ...

Developing countries
such as
Guatemala Guatemala ( ; ), officially the Republic of Guatemala ( es, República de Guatemala, links=no), is a country in Central America Central America ( es, América Central, , ''Centroamérica'' ) is a region of the Americas The Am ...

Guatemala
have rates of stunting in children under 5 living as high as 82.2% in Totonicapán, and 49.8% nationwide. Height measurements are by nature subject to statistical sampling errors even for a single individual. In a clinical situation, height measurements are seldom taken more often than once per office visit, which may mean sampling taking place a week to several months apart. The smooth 50th percentile male and female growth curves illustrated above are aggregate values from thousands of individuals sampled at ages from birth to age 20. In reality, a single individual's growth curve shows large upward and downward spikes, partly due to actual differences in growth velocity, and partly due to small measurement errors. For example, a typical measurement error of plus or minus may completely nullify 0.5 cm of actual growth resulting in either a "negative" 0.5 cm growth (due to overestimation in the previous visit combined with underestimation in the latter), up to a growth (the first visit underestimating and the second visit overestimating) in the same elapsed time period between measurements. Note there is a discontinuity in the growth curves at age 2, which reflects the difference in recumbent length (with the child on his or her back), used in measuring infants and toddlers and standing height typically measured from age 2 onwards. Height, like other
phenotypic In genetics Genetics is a branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular inter ...
traits, is determined by a combination of
genetics Genetics is a branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, ...

genetics
and
environmental factor An environmental factor, ecological factor or eco factor is any factor, abiotic or biotic, that influences living organisms. Abiotic factors include ambient temperature, amount of sunlight, and pH of the water soil in which an organism lives. Biot ...
s. A child's height based on parental heights is subject to
regression toward the mean In statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. In applying statistics to a scientific, industrial, or social problem, it is conventional to begin wit ...

regression toward the mean
, therefore extremely tall or short parents will likely have correspondingly taller or shorter offspring, but their offspring will also likely be closer to average height than the parents themselves. Genetic potential and a number of hormones, minus illness, is a basic determinant for height. Other factors include the genetic response to external factors such as diet, exercise, environment, and life circumstances. Humans grow fastest (other than in the womb) as
infant An infant (from the Latin word ''infans'', meaning 'unable to speak' or 'speechless') is the more formal or specialised synonym for the common term ''baby'', meaning the very young offspring of human beings Humans (''Homo sapiens'' ...

infant
s and
toddler A toddler is a child approximately 12 to 36 months old, though definitions vary. The toddler years are a time of great cognitive, emotional and social development. The word is derived from "to toddle", which means to walk unsteadily, like a child ...
s, rapidly declining from a maximum at birth to roughly age 2, tapering to a slowly declining rate, and then, during the pubertal growth spurt (with an average girl starting her puberty and pubertal growth spurt at 10 years and an average boy starting his puberty and pubertal growth spurt at 12 years), a rapid rise to a second maximum (at around 11–12 years for female, and 13–14 years for male), followed by a steady decline to zero. On average, female growth speed trails off to zero at about 15 or 16 years, whereas the male curve continues for approximately 3 more years, going to zero at about 18–19. These are also critical periods where stressors such as malnutrition (or even severe
child neglect Child neglect is a form of child abuse, abuse, an egregious behavior of caregivers (e.g., parents) that results in Deprivation (child development), depriving a child of their basic needs, such as the failure to provide adequate supervision, health ...
) have the greatest effect. Moreover, the health of a mother throughout her life, especially during her critical period and
pregnancy Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring In biology, offspring are the young creation of living organisms, produced either by a Asexual reproduction, single organism or, in the case of sexual repr ...

pregnancy
, has a role. A healthier child and adult develops a body that is better able to provide optimal prenatal conditions. The pregnant mother's health is important for herself but also for the fetus as
gestation Gestation is the period of development Development or developing may refer to: Arts *Development hell, when a project is stuck in development *Filmmaking#Development, Filmmaking, development phase, including finance and budgeting *Development ...
is itself a critical period for an
embryo An embryo is the early stage of development of a multicellular organism A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms ar ...

embryo
/
fetus A fetus or foetus (; plural fetuses, feti, foetuses, or foeti) is the unborn offspring that develops from an animal embryo An embryo is the early stage of development of a multicellular organism A multicellular organism is an organism tha ...

fetus
, though some problems affecting height during this period are resolved by catch-up growth assuming childhood conditions are good. Thus, there is a cumulative generation effect such that nutrition and health over generations influences the height of descendants to varying degrees. The age of the mother also has some influence on her child's height. Studies in modern times have observed a gradual increase in height with maternal age, though these early studies suggest that trend is due to various socio-economic situations that select certain demographics as being more likely to have a first birth early in the mother's life. These same studies show that children born to a young mother are more likely to have below-average educational and behavioural development, again suggesting an ultimate cause of resources and family status rather than a purely biological explanation. It has been observed that first-born males are shorter than later-born males. However, more recently the reverse observation was made. The study authors suggest that the cause may be socio-economic in nature.


Nature versus nurture

The precise relationship between genetics and environment is complex and uncertain. Differences in human height is 60–80%
heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, the offspring cell (biology), cells or orga ...

heritable
, according to several
twin studies Twin studies are studies conducted on identical or fraternal twins. They aim to reveal the importance of environmental and genetic influences for traits, phenotype In genetics Genetics is a branch of biology Biology is the ...
and has been considered
polygenic A polygene is a member of a group of non-epistatic gene In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, ...
since the Mendelian-biometrician debate a hundred years ago. A genome-wide association (GWA) study of more than 180,000 individuals has identified hundreds of genetic variants in at least 180 loci associated with adult human height. The number of individuals has since been expanded to 253,288 individuals and the number of genetic variants identified is 697 in 423 genetic loci. In a separate study of body proportion using sitting-height ratio, it reports that these 697 variants can be partitioned into 3 specific classes, (1) variants that primarily determine leg length, (2) variants that primarily determine spine and head length, or (3) variants that affect overall body size. This gives insights into the biological mechanisms underlying how these 697 genetic variants affect overall height. These loci do not only determine height, but other features or characteristics. As an example, 4 of the 7 loci identified for intracranial volume had previously been discovered for human height. The effect of environment on height is illustrated by studies performed by anthropologist Barry Bogin and coworkers of Guatemala Mayan children living in the United States. In the early 1970s, when Bogin first visited
Guatemala Guatemala ( ; ), officially the Republic of Guatemala ( es, República de Guatemala, links=no), is a country in Central America Central America ( es, América Central, , ''Centroamérica'' ) is a region of the Americas The Am ...

Guatemala
, he observed that Mayan Indian men averaged in height and the women averaged . Bogin took another series of measurements after the
Guatemalan Civil War The Guatemalan Civil War was a civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the ...
, during which up to a million Guatemalans fled to the United States. He discovered that Maya refugees, who ranged from six to twelve years old, were significantly taller than their Guatemalan counterparts. By 2000, the American Maya were taller than the Guatemalan Maya of the same age, largely due to better nutrition and
health care Healthcare is the maintenance or improvement of health Health, according to the , is "a state of complete physical, and social and not merely the absence of and ".. (2006)''Constitution of the World Health Organization''– ''Basic Docume ...

health care
. Bogin also noted that American Maya children had relatively longer legs, averaging longer than the Guatemalan Maya (a significantly lower sitting height ratio). The
Nilotic The Nilotic peoples are peoples indigenous to the Nile Valley who speak Nilotic languages. They inhabit South Sudan South Sudan (), officially known as the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country in East Africa, East-Central Af ...
peoples of Sudan such as the Shilluk and
Dinka The Dinka people ( din, Jiɛ̈ɛ̈ŋ) are a Nilotic ethnic group native to South Sudan with a sizable diaspora population abroad. The Dinka mostly live along the Nile, from Jonglei to Renk, in the region of Bahr el Ghazal (region of South Sudan) ...
have been described as some of the tallest in the world. Dinka Ruweng males investigated by Roberts in 1953–54 were on average tall, and Shilluk males averaged . The Nilotic people are characterized as having long legs, narrow bodies and short trunks, an adaptation to hot weather. However, male Dinka and Shilluk refugees measured in 1995 in Southwestern Ethiopia were on average only and tall, respectively. As the study points out, Nilotic people "may attain greater height if privileged with favourable environmental conditions during early childhood and adolescence, allowing full expression of the genetic material." Before fleeing, these refugees were subject to
privation Privation is the absence or lack of basic necessities. Child psychology In child psychology, privation occurs when a child has no opportunity to form a relationship with a parent figure, or when such relationship is distorted, due to their treatme ...

privation
as a consequence of the succession of civil wars in their country from 1955 to the present. The tallest living married couple are ex-basketball players
Yao Ming Yao Ming (; born September 12, 1980) is a Chinese basketball Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court A court is any person or institution, of ...

Yao Ming
and
Ye Li Ye Li (; born November 20, 1981) is a Chinese professional basketball Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court A court is any person or instituti ...
(both of China) who measure and respectively, giving a combined height of . They married in
Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of the four Direct-administered municipalities of China, direct-administered municipalities of the China, People's Republic of China. The city is located on the sou ...

Shanghai
, China, on 6 August 2007. In Tibet, the
Kham Kham (; ) is one of the three traditional provinces of Tibet, the others being Amdo in the northeast, and Ü-Tsang in central Tibet. The original residents of Kham are called Khampas (), and were governed locally by chieftains and monasteries. K ...

Kham
pas are known for their great height. Khampa males are on average .


Role of an individual's height


Height and health

Studies show that there is a correlation between small stature and a longer life expectancy. Individuals of small stature are also more likely to have lower blood pressure and are less likely to acquire cancer. The University of Hawaii has found that the “longevity gene” FOXO3 that reduces the effects of aging is more commonly found in individuals of a small body size. Short stature decreases the risk of venous insufficiency. Certain studies have shown that height is a factor in overall health while some suggest tallness is associated with better cardiovascular health and shortness with longevity. Cancer risk has also been found to grow with height. Moreover, scientists have also observed a protective effect of height on risk for
Alzheimer's disease Alzheimer's disease (AD), also referred to simply as Alzheimer's, is a neurodegenerative disease A neurodegenerative disease is caused by the progressive loss of structure or function of neuron A neuron or nerve cell is an membrane p ...
, although this fact could be a result of the genetic overlap between height and intracraneal volume and there are also genetic variants influencing height that could affect biological mechanisms involved in Alzheimer's disease etiology, such as
Insulin-like growth factor 1 Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), also called somatomedin C, is a hormone similar in tertiary structure, molecular structure to insulin which plays an important role in childhood growth, and has Anabolism, anabolic effects in adults. IGF-1 is ...
(IGF-1). Nonetheless, modern westernized interpretations of the relationship between height and health fail to account for the observed height variations worldwide.Cavalli-Sforza, L.L., & Cavalli-Sforza, F., 1995, ''The Great Human Diasporas'', Cavalli-Sforza and Cavalli-Sforza note that variations in height worldwide can be partly attributed to evolutionary pressures resulting from differing environments. These evolutionary pressures result in height related health implications. While tallness is an adaptive benefit in colder climates such as found in Europe, shortness helps dissipate body heat in warmer climatic regions. Consequently, the relationships between health and height cannot be easily generalized since tallness and shortness can both provide health benefits in different environmental settings. At the extreme end, being excessively tall can cause various medical problems, including cardiovascular problems, because of the increased load on the heart to supply the body with blood, and problems resulting from the increased time it takes the brain to communicate with the extremities. For example, Robert Wadlow, the tallest man known to verifiable history, developed trouble walking as his height increased throughout his life. In many of the pictures of the later portion of his life, Wadlow can be seen gripping something for support. Late in his life, although he died at age 22, he had to wear braces on his legs and walk with a cane; and he died after developing an infection in his legs because he was unable to feel the irritation and cutting caused by his leg braces. Sources are in disagreement about the overall relationship between height and longevity. Samaras and Elrick, in the Western Journal of Medicine, demonstrate an inverse correlation between height and longevity in several mammals including humans. Women whose height is under may have a small
pelvis The pelvis (plural pelves or pelvises) is the lower part of the trunk, between the abdomen The abdomen (colloquially called the belly, tummy, midriff or stomach) is the part of the body between the thorax (chest) and pelvis, in humans and in ...
, resulting in such complications during
childbirth Childbirth, also known as labour or delivery, is the ending of pregnancy Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring In biology, offspring are the young born of living organism, organisms, produc ...

childbirth
as
shoulder dystocia Shoulder dystocia is when, after vaginal delivery of the head, the baby's anterior shoulder gets caught above the mother's pubic symphysis, pubic bone. Signs include retraction of the baby's head back into the vagina, known as "turtle sign". Compl ...
. A study done in Sweden in 2005 has shown that there is a strong inverse correlation between height and suicide among Swedish men. A large body of human and animal evidence indicates that shorter, smaller bodies age more slowly, and have fewer chronic diseases and greater longevity. For example, a study found eight areas of support for the "smaller lives longer" thesis. These areas of evidence include studies involving longevity, life expectancy, centenarians, male vs. female longevity differences, mortality advantages of shorter people, survival findings, smaller body size due to calorie restriction, and within species body size differences. They all support the conclusion that smaller individuals live longer in healthy environments and with good nutrition. However, the difference in longevity is modest. Several human studies have found a loss of 0.5 year/centimetre of increased height (1.2 yr/inch). But these findings do not mean that all tall people die young. Many live to advanced ages and some become centenarians. In medicine, height is measured to monitor
child development Child development involves the biological Biology is the natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, b ...
, this is a better indicator of growth than weight on the long term. For older people, excessive height loss is a symptom of
osteoporosis Osteoporosis is a systemic skeletal disorder characterized by low bone massImage:Bone density scanner.jpg, A scanner used to measure bone density using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry Bone density, or bone mineral density (BMD), is the amount ...
. Height is also used to compute indicators like
body surface areaIn physiology Physiology (; ) is the scientific study of functions and mechanisms in a living system. As a sub-discipline of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical ...
or
body mass index Body mass index (BMI) is a value derived from the mass (Mass versus weight, weight) and height of a person. The BMI is defined as the human body weight, body mass divided by the square (algebra), square of the human height, body height, and is ...

body mass index
.


Height and occupational success

There is a large body of research in psychology, economics, and
human biology Human biology is an interdisciplinary area of academic study that examines humans through the influences and interplay of many diverse fields such as human genetics, genetics, human evolution, evolution, human physiology, physiology, anatomy, epidem ...
that has assessed the relationship between several seemingly innocuous physical features (e.g., body height) and occupational success. The correlation between height and success was explored decades ago. Shorter people are considered to have an advantage in certain sports (e.g., gymnastics, race car driving, etc.), whereas in many other sports taller people have a major advantage. In most occupational fields, body height is not relevant to how well people are able to perform; nonetheless several studies found that success was positively correlated with body height, although there may be other factors such as gender or socioeconomic status that are correlated with height which may account for the difference in success. A demonstration of the height-success association can be found in the realm of politics. In the United States presidential elections, the taller candidate won 22 out of 25 times in the 20th century. Nevertheless,
Ignatius Loyola Ignatius of Loyola (born Iñigo López de Oñaz y Loyola; eu, Ignazio Loiolakoa; es, Ignacio de Loyola; la, Ignatius de Loyola; – 31 July 1556), venerated as Saint Ignatius of Loyola, was a Spanish Basque Catholic priest and theologian ...

Ignatius Loyola
, founder of the Jesuits, was and several prominent world leaders of the 20th century, such as
Vladimir Lenin Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov. ( 1870 – 21 January 1924), better known by his alias Lenin,. was a Russian revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He served as the first and founding head of government The head of government is e ...

Vladimir Lenin
, ,
Nicolae Ceaușescu Nicolae Ceaușescu ( , ;  – 25 December 1989) was a Romania, Romanian communism, communist politician and dictator. He was the Romanian Communist Party#General Secretaries (1921–1989), general secretary of the Romanian Communist Party ...

Nicolae Ceaușescu
and
Joseph Stalin ( – 5 March 1953) was a Georgians, Georgian revolutionary and Soviet political leader who governed the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953. He held power both as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1922–1952 ...
were of below average height. These examples, however, were all before modern forms of multi-media, i.e., television, which may further height discrimination in modern society. Further, growing evidence suggests that height may be a proxy for confidence, which is likewise strongly correlated with occupational success.


Sports


History of human height

In the 150 years since the mid-nineteenth century, the average human height in
industrialised countries Image:Imf-advanced-un-least-developed-2008.svg, 450px, Classifications by the International Monetary Fund, IMF and the United Nations, UN in 2008.A developed country, industrialized country (or post-industrial country), more developed countr ...
has increased by up to . However, these increases appear to have largely levelled off. Before the mid-nineteenth century, there were cycles in height, with periods of increase and decrease; however, apart from the decline associated with the transition to agriculture, examinations of skeletons show no significant differences in height from the
neolithic revolution The Neolithic Revolution, or the (First) Agricultural Revolution, was the wide-scale transition of many human culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior Behavior (Ameri ...
through the early-1800s. In general, there were no big differences in regional height levels throughout the nineteenth century. The only exceptions of this rather uniform height distribution were people in the Anglo-Saxon settlement regions who were taller than the average and people from Southeast Asia with below-average heights. However, at the end of the nineteenth century and in the middle of the first globalisation period, heights between rich and poor countries began to diverge. These differences did not disappear in the deglobalisation period of the two World wars. Baten and Blum (2014) find that in the nineteenth century, important determinants of height were the local availability of cattle, meat and milk as well as the local disease environment. In the late twentieth century, however, technologies and trade became more important, decreasing the impact of local availability of agricultural products. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, people of European descent in North America were far taller than those in Europe and were the tallest in the world. The original indigenous population of Plains Native Americans was also among the tallest populations of the world at the time. Some studies also suggest that there existed the
correlation In statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a m ...

correlation
between the height and the
real wage US net productivity compared to real wages. Real wages are wages adjusted for inflation, or, equivalently, wages in terms of the amount of goods and services that can be bought. This term is used in contrast to nominal wages or unadjusted wage ...
, moreover, correlation was higher among the less developed countries. The difference in height between children from different social classes was already observed by age two. In the late nineteenth century, the Netherlands was a land renowned for its short population, but today
Dutch people The Dutch (Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * D ...

Dutch people
are among the world's tallest with young men averaging tall. According to a study by economist
John Komlos John Komlos (born December 28, 1944) is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly k ...
and Francesco Cinnirella, in the first half of the eighteenth century, the average height of an English male was , and the average height of an Irish male was . The estimated mean height of English, German, and Scottish soldiers was – for the period as a whole, while that of Irish was . The average height of male slaves and convicts in North America was . The average height of Americans and Europeans decreased during periods of rapid industrialisation, possibly due to rapid population growth and broad decreases in economic status. This has become known as the early-industrial growth puzzle or in the U.S. context the
Antebellum PuzzleThe Antebellum Puzzle refers to the finding, first reported in 1979, that the height of the male US population, although the tallest in the world, declined during the decades preceding the Civil War A civil war, also known as an intrastate w ...
. In England during the early-nineteenth century, the difference between average height of English upper-class youth (students of
Sandhurst Military Academy The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS or RMA Sandhurst), commonly known simply as Sandhurst, is one of several military academy, military academies of the United Kingdom and is the British Army's initial Commissioned officer, officer trai ...
) and English working-class youth ( Marine Society boys) reached , the highest that has been observed. Data derived from burials show that before 1850, the mean stature of males and females in
Leiden Leiden ( , ; in English language, English and Archaism, archaic Dutch language, Dutch also Leyden) is a List of cities in the Netherlands by province, city and List of municipalities of the Netherlands, municipality in the Provinces of the N ...

Leiden
, The Netherlands was respectively and . The average height of 19-year-old Dutch orphans in 1865 was . According to a study by J.W. Drukker and Vincent Tassenaar, the average height of a Dutch person decreased from 1830 to 1857, even while Dutch real GNP per capita was growing at an average rate of more than 0.5% per year. The worst decline were in urban areas that in 1847, the urban height penalty was . Urban mortality was also much higher than rural regions. In 1829, the average urban and rural Dutchman was . By 1856, the average rural Dutchman was and urban Dutchman was . A 2004 report citing a 2003
UNICEF UNICEF, also known as the United Nations Children's Fund, is a United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide. The agency is among the most widespread and recognizable social welfare or ...

UNICEF
study on the effects of malnutrition in
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It borders China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu River, Yalu (Amnok) and Tu ...

North Korea
, due to "successive famines," found young adult males to be significantly shorter. In contrast South Koreans "feasting on an increasingly Western-influenced diet," without famine, were growing taller. The height difference is minimal for Koreans over forty years old, who grew up at a time when economic conditions in the North were roughly comparable to those in the South, while height disparities are most acute for Koreans who grew up in the mid-1990s – a demographic in which South Koreans are about taller than their North Korean counterparts – as this was a period during which the North was affected by a harsh famine where hundreds of thousands, if not millions, died of hunger. A study by South Korean anthropologists of North Korean children who had defected to China found that eighteen-year-old males were shorter than South Koreans their age due to malnutrition. The tallest living man is Sultan Kösen of Turkey, at . The tallest man in modern history was Robert Pershing Wadlow (1918–1940), from
Illinois Illinois ( ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspape ...

Illinois
, United States, who was at the time of his death. The tallest woman in medical history was of
Edam, Netherlands Edam () is a town in the northwest Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. Combined with Volendam, Edam forms the municipality of Edam-Volendam. Approximately 7,380 people live in Edam. The entire municipality of Edam-Volendam has 28,492 in ...
, who stood when she died at the age of seventeen. The shortest adult human on record was Chandra Bahadur Dangi of
Nepal Nepal (; ne, नेपाल ), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल ), is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is ma ...

Nepal
at . An anecdotal article entitled, "Ancient American Giants" from the 14-Aug-1880 edition of
Scientific American ''Scientific American'' (informally abbreviated ''SciAm'' or sometimes ''SA'') is an American popular science Popular science (also called pop-science or popsci) is an interpretation of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', ...
notes a case from Brushcreek Township, Ohio, when Dr. J. F. Everhart supervised a team that discovered ancient clay coffins within a mound when contained skeletons of the following length: woman with a child , a second coffin with a man and woman, a third coffin with a man and woman, and seven other independent skeletons measuring between and . An image and stone tablet were found with the giants. Adult height between populations often differs significantly. For example, the average height of women from the Czech Republic is greater than that of men from
Malawi Malawi (; or aláwi, officially the Republic of Malawi, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of ...

Malawi
. This may be caused by genetic differences, childhood lifestyle differences (nutrition, sleep patterns, physical labor), or both. Depending on sex, genetic and environmental factors, shrinkage of stature may begin in middle age in some individuals but tends to be universal in the extremely aged. This decrease in height is due to such factors as decreased height of inter-vertebral discs because of
desiccation Desiccation (from Latin de- "thoroughly" + siccare "to dry") is the state of extreme dryness, or the process of extreme drying. A desiccant is a hygroscopic (attracts and holds water) substance that induces or sustains such a state in its lo ...
,
atrophy Atrophy is the partial or complete wasting away of a part of the body. Causes of atrophy include mutations (which can destroy the gene to build up the organ), poor nourishment, poor circulatory system, circulation, loss of hormone, hormonal sup ...
of soft tissues and postural changes secondary to degenerative disease. Working on data of Indonesia, the study by Baten, Stegl and van der Eng suggests a positive relationship of economic development and average height. In Indonesia, human height has decreased coincidentally with natural or political shocks.


Average height around the world

As with any statistical data, the accuracy of such data may be questionable for various reasons: * Some studies may allow subjects to self-report values. Generally speaking, self-reported height tends to be taller than its measured height, although the overestimation of height depends on the reporting subject's height, age, gender and region. * Test subjects may have been invited instead of chosen at random, resulting in
sampling bias In statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more ...
. * Some countries may have significant height gaps between different regions. For instance, one survey shows there is gap between the tallest state and the shortest state in Germany.WWC Web World Center GmbH G.R.P. Institut für Rationelle Psychologi
KÖRPERMASSE BUNDESLÄNDER & STÄDTE
31. Oktober 2007
Under such circumstances, the mean height may not represent the total population unless sample subjects are appropriately taken from all regions with using
weighted average The weighted arithmetic mean is similar to an ordinary arithmetic mean (the most common type of average), except that instead of each of the data points contributing equally to the final average, some data points contribute more than others. The ...
of the different regional groups. * Different social groups can show different mean height. According to a study in France, executives and professionals are taller, and university students are taller than the national average. As this case shows, data taken from a particular social group may not represent a total population in some countries. * A relatively small sample of the population may have been measured, which makes it uncertain whether this sample accurately represents the entire population. * The height of persons can vary over the course of a day, due to factors such as a height increase from exercise done directly before measurement (normally inversely correlated), or a height increase since lying down for a significant period of time (normally inversely correlated). For example, one study revealed a mean decrease of in the heights of 100 children from getting out of bed in the morning to between 4 and 5 p.m. that same day. Such factors may not have been controlled in some of the studies. * Men from
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina,, abbreviated BiH or B&H, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in South South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north a ...

Bosnia and Herzegovina
, the Netherlands, Croatia,
Serbia Serbia (, ; Serbian Serbian may refer to: * someone or something related to Serbia, a country in Southeastern Europe * someone or something related to the Serbs, a South Slavic people * in both meanings, depending on the context, it may ref ...

Serbia
and
Montenegro Montenegro (; cnr, Crna Gora, , , ; sq, Mali i zi) is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (fro ...

Montenegro
have the tallest average height. *
Dinka people The Dinka people ( din, Jiɛ̈ɛ̈ŋ) are a Nilotes, Nilotic ethnic group native to South Sudan with a sizable diaspora population abroad. The Dinka mostly live along the Nile, from Jonglei to Renk, in the region of Bahr el Ghazal (region of Sou ...
are sometimes noted for their height. With the Tutsi of Rwanda, they are believed to be the tallest people in Africa. Roberts and Bainbridge reported the average height of in a sample of 52 Dinka Agaar and in 227 Dinka Ruweng measured in 1953–1954. Other studies of comparative historical height data and nutrition place the Dinka as the tallest people in the world.


Measurement

Crown-rump length is the measurement of the length of human
embryo An embryo is the early stage of development of a multicellular organism A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms ar ...

embryo
s and
fetus A fetus or foetus (; plural fetuses, feti, foetuses, or foeti) is the unborn offspring that develops from an animal embryo An embryo is the early stage of development of a multicellular organism A multicellular organism is an organism tha ...

fetus
es from the top of the head (crown) to the bottom of the buttocks (rump). It is typically determined from Obstetric ultrasonography, ultrasound imagery and can be used to estimate gestational age. Until two years old, recumbent length is used to measure infants. Length measures the same dimension as height, but height is measured standing up while length is measured lying down. In first world nations, the average total body length of a newborn is about , although premature newborns may be much smaller. Standing height is used to measure children over two years old and adults who can stand without assistance. Measure is done with a
stadiometer A stadiometer is a piece of medical equipment used for measuring human height. It is usually constructed out of a ruler and a sliding horizontal headpiece which is adjusted to rest on the top of the head. Stadiometers are used in routine medical exa ...
. In general, standing height is about less than recumbent length. Surrogate height measurements are used when standing height and recumbent length are impractical. For sample Chumlea equation use knee height as indicator of stature. Other techniques include: arm span, sitting height, ulna length, etc.


See also

* Anthropometry, the measurement of the human individual * Body weight * ''Economics and Human Biology'' (academic journal) * History of anthropometry * Human physical appearance * Human variability * Pygmy peoples


Citations


General bibliography

* (for heights in U.S. and Japan) * (for heights in Germany) * Statistics Netherlands, Netherlands Central Bureau for Statistics, 1996 (for average heights) * * * * A collection of data on human height, referred to here as "karube" but originally collected from other sources, is archive
here
A copy is availabl
here
(an English translation of this Japanese page would make it easier to evaluate the quality of the data...) * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

*


External links


CDC National Center for Health Statistics: Growth Charts of American Percentiles


Body Weights and Heights by Countries (given in percentiles)
The Height Gap, Article discussing differences in height around the world

Tallest in the World: Native Americans of the Great Plains in the Nineteenth Century

European Heights in the Early eighteenth Century

Spatial Convergence in Height in East-Central Europe, 1890–1910

The Biological Standard of Living in Europe During the Last Two Millennia

HEALTH AND NUTRITION IN THE PREINDUSTRIAL ERA: INSIGHTS FROM A MILLENNIUM OF AVERAGE HEIGHTS IN NORTHERN EUROPE

Our World In Data – Human Height
– Visualizations of how human height around the world has changed historically (by Max Roser). Charts for all countries, world maps, and links to more data sources. *
What Has Happened to the Quality of Life in the Advanced Industrialized Nations?
'

{{DEFAULTSORT:Human Height Human height, Anthropology, Height Anthropometry Auxology Size Mathematics in medicine