Which EU country is standing tall in new height study?

Which EU country is standing tall in new height study?
By Chris Harris
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Europe boasts the tallest men and women in the world, a new study has concluded.


Europe boasts the tallest men and women in the world, a new study has concluded.

The Dutch are top of the tree for men while its women are the second tallest in the European Union.

Latvian women, meanwhile, stand shoulders above other nationalities, measuring, on average, 169.8 cm, the tallest in the world.

The analysis, published in the journal eLife, looked at the height of 18-year-olds over a century to 2014.

Ten facts to know

  • Dutchmen, who average 182.5cm, are the tallest in the world.
  • Latvian women, at 169.8cm, tower over all other nationalities.
  • Portuguese men, at just 172.9cm, are the EU’s smallest and have just 3cm over Latvian women.
  • Maltese women are the shortest in the EU, at 160.8cm.
  • The world’s smallest men are in East Timor (160cm), while the shortest women are in Guatemala (149cm).
  • Australian men in 2014 were the only non-European nationality in the top 25 tallest in the world.
  • Iranian men had the biggest growth spurt over the century, increasing their height by around 16cm.
  • South Korean women have grown the most, putting on 20cm, reflecting a trend of progression in east Asian countries, particularly China and Japan.
  • The disparity between men and women has grown most, of EU countries, in Belgium, increasing from 11.7cm in 1914 to 16.2cm in 2014.
  • The male/female gap has shortened most in the Czech Republic: from 15.2cm in 1914, to 11.6 a century later.

How do countries compare?

Here we compare EU countries, plus Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Iran and Egypt.

What influences growth trends?

The research, led by scientists at Imperial College London, revealed growth in some countries, such as the USA, has plateaued over the last 30 or 40 years.

In the EU, Swedish men have grown the slowest, putting on just 7.8cm in a 100 years, compared with Greece, the fastest, at 14.7cm

Swedish women are also the EU’s slowest growers, with adding just 5.4cm from 1914-2014, while adult females in the Czech Republic were the fastest, adding 15.7cm.

ICL says how tall we grow is influenced by nutrition and environmental factors, although an individual’s genetics also plays a role.

It said: “Children and adolescents who are better nourished and live in better environments tend to be taller, and height may even be influenced by a mother’s health and nutrition during pregnancy. It has lifelong consequences for health and even education and earnings.

“Some research suggests people who are taller tend to live longer, gain a better education and even earn more.

“However, being tall may carry some health risks, as studies have linked height to a greater risk of certain cancers including ovarian and prostate.”

Professor Majid Ezzati, from ICL, added: “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.”

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