A century of trends in adult human height

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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.


  • James Bentham
  • Mariachiara Di Cesare
  • Gretchen A. Stevens
  • Bin Zhou
  • Honor Bixby
  • Melanie J. Cowan
  • Léa Fortunato
  • James E. Bennett
  • Goodarz Danaei
  • Kaveh Hajifathalian
  • Yuan Lu
  • Leanne M. Riley
  • Avula Laxmaiah
  • Vasilis Kontis
  • Christopher J. Paciorek
  • Majid Ezzati
  • Ziad A. Abdeen
  • Zargar Abdul Hamid
  • Niveen M. Abu-Rmeileh
  • Benjamin Acosta-Cazares
  • Robert J Adams
  • Wichai Aekplakorn
  • Carlos A. Aguilar-Salinas
  • Charles Agyemang
  • Alireza Ahmadvand
  • Wolfgang Ahrens
  • Hazzaa M Al-Hazzaa
  • Amani Rashed Al-Othman
  • Rajaa Mohammad Salem Al-Raddadi
  • Mohamed Khalid Ali
  • Ala’a Alkerwi
  • Mar Alvarez-Pedrerol
  • Eman Aly
  • Philippe Amouyel
  • Antoinette Amuzu
  • Lars Bo Andersen
  • Sigmund A. Anderssen
  • Ranjit Mohan Anjana
  • Hajer Aounallah-Skhiri
  • Inger Ariansen
  • Tahir Aris
  • Nimmathota Arlappa
  • Dominique Arveiler
  • Felix K. Assah
  • Mária Avdicová
  • Fereidoun Azizi
  • Guy De Backer
  • Aleksander Giwercman
  • Emily Sonestedt
  • Tanja Stocks
  • NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC)
External organisations
  • Middlesex University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Care
  • Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición
  • Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology - BIPS GmbH
  • King Saud University
  • Ministry of Health Saudi Arabia
  • Luxembourg Institute of Health
  • University of Lille Nord de France
  • Sogn and Fjordane University College
  • National Institute of Public Health, Tunisia
  • Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire Immunopathologie et Chimie Thérapeutique
  • Imperial College London
  • World Health Organization Centre for Health Development
  • Harvard University
  • Indian Council of Medical Research
  • Al-Quds University
  • Birzeit University
  • Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social
  • University of Adelaide
  • Mahidol University
  • University of Amsterdam
  • Tehran University of Medical Sciences
  • Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research
  • Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Norwegian School of Sport Sciences
  • Madras Diabetes Research Foundation
  • Norwegian Institute of Public Health
  • Ministry of Health, Myanmar
  • University of Yaoundé 1
  • Regional Authority of Public Health
  • Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences
  • Ghent University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
  • Physiology
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13410
Issue number2016JULY
StatePublished - 2016 Jul 26
Publication categoryResearch