A new study by an enormous team of scientists, published in the journal eLife, shows that the Netherlands has, on average, the tallest men in the world (a bit over six feet), and Latvia the tallest women (around five feet, seven inches). Here are the top rankings:
|1. Netherlands||1. Latvia|
|2. Belgium||2. Netherlands|
|3. Estonia||3. Estonia|
|4. Latvia||4. Czech Republic|
|5. Denmark||5. Serbia|
So basically the Dutch, Latvians, and Estonians are super-tall, and the Belgians, Czechs, Serbians, and Danes are up there, too. The focus of the study was to measure how height has changed over the past 100 years, and the reason for doing it was that height is positively correlates with lifespan, educational level, and income. This is likely because height is also strongly correlated with nutrition, which in turn is correlated with income.
Thus, changes in height can indicate improvements to the overall income and nutrition of a country’s inhabitants (as opposed to just the ruling elite). Indeed, while South Koreans have gone from a global ranking of 151 in 1914 to 51 today, North Koreans have gone from a ranking of 138 to only 90 in the same time. This would be expected, given the deprivations caused by North Korea’s centrally planned economy, and it jibes with the finding of a growing gap in height between the two Koreas.
Another item I noticed in this article is something I found surprising when doing research for my book Six Nine, Two Ten, which is that Fijians and Tongans, despite having some famous, tall representatives, are not actually so tall when compared to countries around the world. Fijian men rank 64th, and Tongan men rank 40th. Another recent study also confirms that when it comes to weight and obesity, as measured by the body-mass index (BMI), Polynesians and Micronesians are the heaviest people in the world.