Croatian men 7th tallest in world, Croatian women 18th

Croatian men are the 7th tallest men in the world, while women in Croatia are 18th, according to the latest study which shows that Dutch men and Latvian women are the tallest people in the world.

When it comes to height, Dutch men and Latvian women tower over all other nationalities, the new study confirms.

The average Dutchman is now 183cm tall, while the average Latvian woman reaches 170cm.

The research, published in the journal eLife, has tracked growth trends in 187 countries since 1914.

The study shows that Croatian men are the 7th tallest men on the planet, after those from the Netherlands, Belgium, Estonia, Lithuania, Denmark and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croats are followed by men from Serbia, Iceland and the Czech Republic.

The list of the tallest women is led by Latvia, followed by the Netherlands, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Slovakia, Denmark, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. Women in Slovenia are ranked 11th, those from Bosnia are 16th, while women from Croatia are in 18th place on that list.

The study finds Iranian men and South Korean women have had the biggest spurts, increasing their height by an average of more than 16cm and 20cm.

Americans have tumbled down the rankings. Back in 1914, they had the third tallest men and fourth tallest women on the planet. Today they are in 37th and 42nd place.

The height charts are now utterly dominated by European countries, but the data would suggest that growth trends in general in the West have largely levelled out.

The smallest men on the planet are to be found in East Timor (160cm).

The world's smallest women are in Guatemala, a status they also held back in 1914. According to the survey data, a century ago the average Guatemalan 18-year-old female was 140cm. Today she has still not quite reached 150cm.

Lead scientist Majid Ezzati, also from Imperial, told BBC News: "About a third of the explanation could be genes, but that doesn't explain the change over time. Genes don't change that fast and they don't vary that much across the world. So changes over time and variations across the world are largely environmental. That's at the whole population level versus for any individual whose genes clearly matter a lot."

Good standards of healthcare, sanitation, and nutrition were the key drivers, he said. Also important is the mother's health and nutrition during pregnancy.

Tall people tend to have a longer life expectancy, with a reduced risk of heart disease. On the other hand, there is some evidence that they are at greater risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal, postmenopausal breast and ovarian cancers.

The eLife paper - A Century of Trends in Adult Human Height - was put together by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, a group of 800 or so scientists, in association with the World Health Organisation.
The work, which was funded by the Welcome Trust and Grand Challenges Canada, was presented here in Manchester at the biennial EuroScience Open Forum.

Last update: Tue, 26/07/2016 - 14:50
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