A recent report compiling the growth in terms of height of men and women from around the world has shown that the average height of Maltese men rose by 11.4cm since 1896, and that Maltese women, on average, are 10.7cm taller.
The average height of Maltese men born in 1896 was 161.9, but this rose to 173.3cm for those who born in 1996. The average height of Maltese women born in 1896 rose from 150.2cm to 160.9 cm in 1996.
The report was published by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC), a network of health scientists around the world that provides rigorous and timely data on major risk factors for non-communicable diseases for all of the world’s countries.
The researchers calculated average height for 18 year olds, roughly the age when people stop growing. They drew on more than 1,400 studies that covered more than 18.6 million adults who reached that age between 1914 and 2014.
Researchers explained that while height is one of the most heritable human traits, cross-population differences are believed to be related to non-genetic, environmental factors. Of these, foetal growth, nutrition and infections during childhood and adolescence are particularly important determinants of height during adulthood. “Information on height, and its trends, can therefore help understand the health impacts of childhood and adolescent nutrition and environment, and of their social, economic, and political determinants, on both non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and on neonatal health and survival in the next generation”
The report explains that being taller is associated with enhanced longevity, and higher education and earnings. “The largest gain in adult height over the past century has occurred in South Korean women and Iranian men, who became 20.2 cm and 16.5 cm 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”.
The tallest men in the new analysis were Dutch, with an average height of about 182.5 cm. The next nine tallest countries in order for men were Belgium, Estonia, Latvia, Denmark, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Iceland and the Czech Republic.
Latvia topped the list for women, with an average height of 170 centimeters. Rounding out the top 10 were the Netherlands, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Slovakia, Denmark, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine.
In the U.S., men gained about 6cm over the century, with about 5cm for women. The nation is now the 37th tallest for men and 42nd for women, researchers said.
Researchers explained that most Western countries, including the Netherlands, have hit a plateau.