A new global study has shown that the human race has gotten taller over the past 100 years – though South Africans have shown some of the least change.
The study, conducted by Imperial College in London, looked at average height measurements for men and women in 1914, and compared it to data from 2014.
The data drew on almost 1500 sources, including government health studies and military data, to model changes in the height of 18-year-olds across 200 countries over 100 years from 1914
The research found that average height as increased globally, though there were dramatic differences, depending on the region.
Specifically, there were low differences in sub-Saharan Africa, and large differences in Asian nations and European countries.
According to the researchers, the global trend of increased height has been attributed to improvements in nutrition, hygiene and healthcare, downplaying the role of genetics when looking at an average.
Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, while seeing an improvement in the listed criteria, remains one of the regions worse off in terms of nutrition and health.
Height in South Africa
South African men have shown the third lowest rate of growth in the world, having increased height by a mere 1.4 cm over the past 100 years. South African women fared better, but still relatively lower, adding 3.1 cm.
South Africa has the 76th shortest average height for women in the world (158 cm, up from 154.9 cm in 1914), while South African men are quite short, ranked 47th overall for the average height of 166.7 cm (up from 165.3 cm in 1914).
Dutch men, and Latvian women are now the tallest people in the world at 182.5 cm and 169.8 cm – in 1914, the title was held by Swedish men and women at 171.9 cm and 160.3 cm.
The shortest men and women are in East Timor (159.8 cm) and Guatemala (149.4 cm), respectively – in 1914, it was Lao men (152.9 cm), though Guatemalan women (140.3 cm).
The tables below show which countries now have the tallest and shortest people in the world, and which countries have shown the biggest and smallest changes in height over the past 100 years.
Countries with the tallest and shortest men and women
|Country||2014 Male Height (cm)||Country||2014 Female Height (cm)|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||168.4||Slovakia||167.5|
|Marshall islands||162.8||Lao PDR||151.3|
Countries with the biggest and smallest change in height: 1914 – 2014
|Country||Male Height change (cm)||Country||Female Height change (cm)|
|South Korea||+15.1||Czech Republic||+15.7|
Source: Business Tech