Could you picture a human male as tall as eight feet, 11.1 inches? It seems like a stretch. No pun intended. But that was Robert Pershing Wadlow’s height before his death in 1940. He was and still is the tallest man that ever existed.
In 2012, the height of the shortest man was 21.5 inches. He was Chandra Bahadur Dangi from Rhimkholi, Nepal. He died in 2015. These heights are obviously not average and of course, all over the world, men vary in height.
Your height is an important factor from the time of your birth. Doctors measured your height and weight throughout your formative years to ensure your physical development was on track. And, even through adulthood, doctors still take your measurements to ascertain the status of your physical health.
Canadians Still Getting Taller
Canadians like to think that we stand tall on the world stage. But according to the largest ever global study on height, Canucks aren’t growing as fast as citizens of some other countries.
Where Canadian men were the fifth tallest in the world in 1914, they were the 27th tallest a century later. Canadian women, sixth tallest at the outbreak of the First World War, were 40th tallest in 2014.
It’s not because Canadians haven’t grown in height over that 100-year period. It’s that we haven’t grown as much as some others.
What Is the Average Height for Men in Canada?
Internationally, it’s hard to define a standard or average height for males as there’s a vast difference in many countries. The height of the average male in other countries ranges from five feet like in East Timor five feet, 11 inches in the Netherlands.
It’s also hard to define a worldwide average height as methods in measurement vary in different countries. There are also discrepancies when it comes to factors such as the percentage of the population measured when their measurements were taken, and the amount of data collected to determine the average height of the population.
Canadian men, for instance, had an average height of 170.7 centimetres (5-foot-7) in 1914. Average height continued to grow over the next 100 years, topping out at 178.1 centimetres (5-foot-10) in 2014.
But that 7.4-centimetre gain over a century paled in comparison with gains of about 11 centimetres among British and Chinese men and a study-leading 16.5 centimetres among Iranian men.
What Is the Average Height for Women in Canada?
The situation was much the same for Canadian women. In 1914, the average Canadian woman was 157.6 centimetres (5-foot-2) tall. A century later, the average was up to 163.9 centimetres (5-foot-4) — a gain of 6.3 centimetres.
By comparison, the average South Korean woman was 20.2 centimetres taller, while British and Chinese women gained an average of about 11 centimetres.
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They scoured hundreds of original sources — everything from military conscription records to epidemiological studies and nutrition surveys.
Among other things, they found that:
- The tallest men in 2014 were in the Netherlands, with an average height of 182.5 centimetres (6 feet).
- The tallest women could be found in Latvia, with an average height of 170 centimetres (5-foot-7).
- The shortest male population was in East Timor, with an average height of 160 centimetres (5-foot-3).
- The shortest women were found in Guatemala, at 149.4 centimetres (4-foot-11).
The top 10 countries for height for both men and women in 2014 were all found in Europe.
Height as Health Indicator
National height figures are more than interesting statistical data points. While genetics play a major role in how tall people grow to be, height figures can be a good indicator of nutrition and health care. “Children and adolescents who are malnourished, or who suffer from serious diseases, will generally be shorter as adults,” the study points out.
“This is important because taller people generally live longer, are less likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke, and taller women and their children are less likely to have complications during and after birth.”
Countries with the tallest men in 2014 (1914 rankings in brackets)
- The Netherlands (12).
- Belgium (33).
- Estonia (4).
- Latvia (13).
- Denmark (9).
- Bosnia-Herzegovina (19).
- Croatia (22).
- Serbia (30).
- Iceland (6).
- Czech Republic (24).
27. Canada (5)
Countries with the tallest women in 2014 (1914 rankings in brackets)
- Latvia (28).
- The Netherlands (38).
- Estonia (16).
- Czech Republic (69).
- Serbia (93).
- Slovakia (26).
- Denmark (11).
- Lithuania (41).
- Belarus (42).
- Ukraine (43).
40. Canada (6)
How Does Your Height Affect Your Life Expectancy?
These health issues may explain the seeming obsession humans have with height. Tallness is often associated with good health probably because taller people tend to be leaner in stature. However, despite tallness lessening the chance of certain health issues, this advantage doesn’t necessarily translate into longevity.
Studies have shown that shorter people tend to live longer. Several theories believe that this may be due to:
- Caloric Intake – Taller people need more calories to function optimally, so they eat a lot more than shorter people
- Cell Count – Carcinogens and free radicals have easier access to the trillion more cells of taller people, increasing their exposure to these health hazards
- Cell replication – The greater number of cell replications in taller people due to the number of cells in their bodies may result in fewer replacement cells as they get older, making them more susceptible to organ and tissue damage
Despite this, many factors play a role in longevity. The most important of these is lifestyle. So whether you’re tall or short, what you eat, how often you exercise, and how you take care of yourself in general (physically and mentally) will affect your life span.
The Average Height for Life Insurance
The average male stops growing at 16. If you’re an adult, with the exception of having cosmetic lengthening surgery, you’re stuck with your present height. If you’re lucky, you may even measure up when compared to the average height for men in Canada.
But this really only matters if you’re considering life insurance. However, there’s no need to worry. There are many life insurance options available to suit your lifestyle.