A century of trends in adult human height

James Bentham, Mariachiara Di Cesare, Gretchen A. Stevens, Bin Zhou, Honor Bixby, Melanie 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-CazaresRobert Adams, Wichai Aekplakorn, Carlos A. Aguilar-Salinas, Charles Agyemang, Alireza Ahmadvand, Wolfgang Ahrens, Hazzaa M. Al-Hazzaa, Amani Rashed Al-Othman, Rajaa Al Raddadi, Mohamed M. 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, Bontha V. Babu, Suhad Bahijri, Nagalla Balakrishna, Piotr Bandosz, NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

142 Citations (Scopus)


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
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2016


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