How Tall The Average Male Is And Factors That Impact It

Historically, people were much shorter than they are today. This is because human height has been increasing over the past 200 years, mostly due to factors that have improved the growth rate, according to Our World in Data

Between 60% and 80% of our height is determined by genetics, while the rest relates to environmental factors, with nutrition being the most important influence in change, explains Scientific American. This has marked a clear difference over the decades, where developed countries with good access to nutrients, especially during childhood, have gotten taller faster than those countries still developing.

Height extremes, however, are due to medical or genetic conditions. Gigantism, which causes rapid growth due to an excessive production of growth hormone (GH), is a common cause of drastic height — some develop up to eight feet tall at times (per Cleveland Clinic). Dwarfism, on the other hand, is more complicated with a short stature of 4 feet 10 inches or less (per WebMD). It can be caused by many different conditions and disorders, including a deficiency of GH, metabolic disorders, and hormonal problems.

Medical conditions aside though, the average male height varies greatly around the world. Genetically speaking, the population is just shorter in some countries than in others — and that's before even taking into consideration outside factors. So how exactly does the average height of an American male compare to men around the world? You'd be surprised.

Height variations around the world

There's no standard on how height is measured around the world so some variations may be expected. Nonetheless, the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration was tracking data on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) since 1985. Part of that includes tracking the mean height of people around the world and the evolution of that height over time. 

In 2019, the mean height for American males read 176.9 cm, which puts them in 47th place out of 200 countries for the tallest males in the world. Keep in mind, much of Europe is taller than the U.S., however, most of Asia is shorter. With that being said, the tallest men in the world are considered to be the Dutch, with a mean height of 183.8 cm. Following close behind are men from Estonia, Iceland, Denmark, Germany, and a number of other northern and eastern European countries.

Of the 200 countries tracked, those from Timor-Leste were ranked the shortest with a mean height of 160.1 cm. Men from Papua New Guinea and Guatemala had a mean height of 164.4 cm or less.

Needless to say, the rankings have changed over time. The U.S., for example, started in 36th place in 1985. However, as of 2019, American males were sitting at 47th. And in case you're wondering, it's not just men — women are getting taller too.