ONE HUNDRED years of latest researching findings have shown that environmental and nutrition factors have significant influences not only on the mental but the physical height of people across the world. The study, published Tuesday, July 26, in the journal eLife, brings together data from 187 countries over a century from 1914 to 2014, tracking growth trends around the world. The research shows that Europe has come to completely dominate the growth charts, with the top ten countries in both the male and female charts coming from Europe. Significant in the findings is the fact that a healthy pollution- free environment, access to clean water and other health-boosting factors play key roles in the growth of adolescents. Another crucial factor, according to the findings, is nutrition which many health experts have claimed has been on the declining as adolescents are daily gulping non-balanced diet in the form of snacks. Lead researcher Professor Majid Ezzati, from Imperial College London, said: “This study gives us a picture of the health of nations over the past century, and reveals the average height of some nations may even be shrinking while others continue to grow taller. “This confirms we urgently need to address children and adolescents’ environment and nutrition on a global scale, and ensure we’re giving the world’s children the best possible start in life. “Our study also shows the English-speaking world, especially the USA, is falling behind other high-income nations in Europe and Asia Pacific. Together with the poor performance of these countries in terms of obesity, this emphasises the need for more effective policies towards healthy nutrition throughout life.” According to the study, The Netherlands has the tallest men in the world and Latvia the tallest women, according to the largest ever study of global height. For those at the other end of the spectrum, the smallest men in the world are to be found in the southeast Asian country of East Timor, where males average a height of 160 centimeters (5 feet 3 inches). Guatemalan women, as they did in 1914, hold the title of the world’s smallest women; the average female in the Central American country has still not broken the 5 feet barrier, registering 150 centimeters (4 feet 11 inches). People of both sexes in the United Kingdom are a long way down the international height league table. British men are 31st on the list, and British women 38th. In other parts of the world—notably the United States—the rate of growth has slowed. American men and women have grown by just 6 centimeters and 5 centimeters respectively. And in certain sub- Saharan African countries— such as Uganda and Sierra Leone—the average man has lost a couple of centimeters off his height since 1914. Overall, the top 10 tallest nations list in 2014 was dominated by European countries, and featured no English-speaking nation. Dutch men had an average height of 182.5cm (5ft 11.8in) while the average Latvian woman was 170cm (5ft 6.9in) tall. The second-tallest men were found in Belgium, followed by Estonia, Latvia, Denmark and
Bosnia and Herzegovina. The biggest growth spurts have been seen in East Asia, with Japanese, Chinese and South Korean all recording marked increases in height. Men from the Middle Eastern nation of Iran have undergone the biggest increase in height across the century, growing by an average of more than 16 centimeters (6 inches), while South Korean women have grown by around 20 centimeters (8 inches). Nigerian men and women were no way mentioned in the list and had they been one doubt they would have made any significant impact. The reason is that the study reveals height of people in Sahara/ Central Africa declined significant, no doubt owing to increasing poverty in the regions. In the women’s table, Latvia was followed by the Netherlands, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Serbia. The research also revealed that American men and women no longer stood out from the crowd as they once did. In 1914, the US had the third- tallest men and fourth-tallest women in the world. Since then, US men have slipped to 37th place and women to 42nd. The height of men and women in the UK has increased by around 11cm over the past century, the study found. South Korean women and
Iranian men had shown the biggest increases in height since 1914, the research showed. Iranian men had increased by an average of 16.5cm, and
South Korean women by 20.2cm. The authors of the study suggest that environmental factors, rather than genetics, are the dominant force in explaining the variations in height. Lead scientist Majid Ezzati from Imperial College London told the BBC News that “about a third of the explanation could be genes” but said that good healthcare, sanitation and diet were the primary factors. The findings are published in the journal eLife and were also presented at the Esof (Euroscience Open Forum) meeting taking place in Manchester. The study also showed that: The difference between the tallest and shortest countries in the world in 2014 was about 23cm for men – an increase of 4cm on the height gap in 1914. The height difference between the world’s tallest and shortest countries for women had remained the same across the century, at about 20cm. That the height difference between men and women had on average remained largely unchanged over 100 years – the average height gap was about 11cm in 1914 and 12cm in 2014. The the average height of young men and women has decreased by as much as 5cm in the past 40 years in some countries in sub- Saharan Africa such as Sierra Leone, Uganda and Rwanda. That Australian men in 2014 were the only non- European nationality in the top 25 tallest in the world. Here is the list of nations with the tallest men in 2014 (1914 ranking in brackets): 1 Netherlands (12) 2 Belgium (33) 3 Estonia (4) 4 Latvia (13) 5 Denmark (9) 6 Bosnia and Herzegovina (19) 7 Croatia (22) 8 Serbia (30) 9 Iceland (6) 10 Czech Republic (24) Here is the same list for women: 1 Latvia (28) 2 Netherlands (38) 3 Estonia (16) 4 Czech Republic (69) 5 Serbia (93) 6 Slovakia (26) 7 Denmark (11) 8 Lithuania (41) 9 Belarus (42) 10 Ukraine (43)