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Old 01 Jan 2018, 11:17 AM   #682490 / #1
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Default Human Height: Ups and Downs

BBC - Future - Will humans keep getting taller?
The average human height has gone up in industrialised countries ranging from the United Kingdom to the United States to Japan, with gains of up to 10 centimetres. But for height gains over the last 150 years, one nation stands head and shoulders above all others. Today, young Dutch men and women average around 184cm and 170cm in height, respectively – both, on average, 19cm taller than their mid-19th Century counterparts. "That's a good number to shock people with," says John Komlos, professor emeritus of economic history at the University of Munich.

The research revealed that the literal ups and downs of individual human height closely track variations in two factors: diet and disease. Particularly, where these two factors are at work during childhood. If children do not get enough food to eat or cannot absorb nutrients because of diarrhoeal illness, say, their chances of sprouting into their full potential adult height are greatly diminished.
There is lots of evidence of such a link. After the Black Death, the survivors grew taller, because they had a lot to eat and because they were less diseased by being more spread out. Englishmen grew only 4 cm shorter than how tall they grew today.

But in the 17th century, Europeans fought each other like crazy and the average height of a Frenchman was only 162 cm. The Industrial Revolution had a similar stunting effect, from people being crowded into city slums.

But in the late 19th cy., health and sanitation improved, and people grew taller again.

At the present, compare North and South Korea. South Korean men are about 3 - 8 cm taller than North Korean ones, and in the United Nations' Human Development Index, South Korea is at 15 and North Korea at 188 out of 195.
Yet in some industrialised countries, notably the United States, the height gains since the 19th Century have actually levelled off. From the 18th Century Revolutionary War through to World War Two in the mid-20th Century, Americans towered above other industrialised folks. But today, American men typically notch about 176cm and women 163cm – approximately the same height as that of the average hippie who attended Woodstock 45 years ago, and well behind the modern Dutch.

"The average height today in the US is not appreciably different than it was in the mid to late 70s, even the late 60s," says Leonard. "We're talking about 40 to 50 years of relative plateau."
That is likely because of economic inequality in the US, something more extreme than in Europe, with its more socialized economies.

Height also has a genetic component, with tall people producing tall children and likewise for short people. Genetics of human height. - PubMed - NCBI describes how 80% of the variation in human height is genetic. But the genes involved in height individually have a small effect.

So well-fed and healthy people like present-day Dutch ones likely grow as tall as their genes will allow.

Taller is often perceived as more attractive, but that effect levels off at about 190 cm. Great height can also produce health problems.

The tallest man on record, Robert Wadlow, grew 272 cm. He needed leg braces to walk, and an infection from a blister from a poorly-fitting brace contributed to his death at 22.
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Old 01 Jan 2018, 05:28 PM   #682507 / #2
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Thanks! That's interesting stuff.

I've always thought that the taller people are the harder their organs have to work, and that would be a disadvantage, relatively speaking.
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