A recent study finds that Chinese adults have reached all new heights over the past 100 years. The average height of both Chinese men and woman rose by 10 cm in the past century, shooting them way up the worldwide rankings.
In a study led by the Imperial College London, researchers calculated the average heights of 18-year-olds between 1914 and 2014. In 2014, Chinese adults reached 172 and 160 cm (5.6 and 5.2 ft) for men and women, respectively. The Chinese media has made sure not to overlook the fact that Chinese males are 1 cm taller than their Japanese counterparts.
In terms of improvement, Chinese women surpassed men by climbing 47 places and rising to the 87th tallest in the world. Meanwhile, Chinese men’s ranking jumped up 37 spots to 93rd place. Over the century, South Korean women grew the most, by a whopping 20.2 cm, and shot up 161 spots to the 55th place. Heights of some developed countries, including the US, UK, Japan, and many northern European countries, have plateaued in recent decades. Both men and women of the US dropped over 30 places in the rankings.
European countries overwhelmingly dominated the top spots worldwide, with Dutch men at the peak with an outstanding 183 cm (6.0 ft). Latvian women reach 168 cm (5.5 ft) on average, while the shortest group, Guatemalan women, stand at 149 cm (4.9 ft). The shortest men, measuring around 160 cm from head to toe, are from Timor-Leste, Yemen and Laos.
One netizen commented on the results, “I’m so sorry that I lowered the average. At least I contributed to the average weight of my nation.” Within China, people from northern provinces tend to overshadow their southern counterparts in height, according to this infographic from last year.
Though genetics affect our heights, do not belittle the role enviromental factors play. They make a 20-40% difference, says one biology expert featured in Scientific American. “In underdeveloped countries, malnutrition plays a major role in inhibiting the growth process. Children from families of higher socioeconomic classes are taller than their coevals in the lower socioeconomic groups,” according to a study by Dutch pediatrics researchers.
By Amy Yang