Men Gained 4 Inches Height in 100 Years
Europeans shot up as childhood disease declined
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2013 3:51 AM CDT
This crowd at Billingsgate fish market, 1870 would seem pretty short to a time traveler from the late 20th century.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – The past is made of shorter people, according to new research that shows the average height of European men shot up 4.3 inches in the century from the 1870s to about 1980, despite two world wars and a Great Depression. The study reviewed data from 15 countries and found that men grew about a millimeter a year, reports the Independent. In the UK, the average height of men rose from 5' 5" to 5' 10" over the century, a rise researchers believe was largely the result of the decline of childhood diseases that had a major influence on later development, the BBC reports.

Improved sanitation and living standards are also believed to have played a role, along with smaller family sizes that made it easier for families to feed their children. "Increases in human stature are a key indicator of improvements in the average health of populations," says the lead researcher, who was unable to do similar research on female height because of a lack of data. An expert from the UK's Faculty of Public Health, however, says it would be a mistake to assume shorter men are unhealthier. "Like a lot of research, this paper prompts more questions than it set out to answer," he says.

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Showing 3 of 30 comments
rickydarlin
Sep 3, 2013 10:58 AM CDT
I have an antique hat collection & almost all hats 100 years ago were six and seven eighths
BeingStill
Sep 3, 2013 9:32 AM CDT
4 inches? JUST in height? Its nice to know how our tax dollars are being spent! What a completely useless topic! I wish that the overall IQ of the government grew 4 points... and GAVE BACK the freedom government took from We the People by 4%!
Lefty_Libby
Sep 3, 2013 12:07 AM CDT
My mother's maternal ancestors were really tall. Great grandfather and great great grandfather were six footers at a time when men were shrimps.