Dutch men are world's tallest and Latvia's women are loftiest, study finds


The Netherlands has the tallest men in the world and Latvia the tallest women, according to the largest ever study of global height.

People of both sexes in the UK are a long way down the international height league table. British men are 31st on the list, and British women 38th.

Overall, the top 10 tallest nations 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.

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.

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."

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 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.

:: 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 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.

:: 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)