British women walking taller

figure_measure_1600_wht_5484Scientists have found that British women have grown taller faster than most of the rest of the world.

British women now average 5′ 5″ (164.4 cm) compared to 5′ (153.4 cm) at the start of the century.

This pushes them up the world league table of the tallest from 57th place in 1914 to 38th place today.

British men have grown to 5′ 10″ (178 cm), up 10.6 cm, and have moved up from 36th to 31st place.

Who are the tallest?

Latvian women are the tallest and  average 5′ 7″ (170 cm)

Dutch men are the tallest at 6′ (183 cm)

Who are the shortest?

Men from East Timor and the Yemen at 5′ 3″ (160 cm), Laos (161 cm), Madagascar and Malawi (both 5′ 4″ or 162 cm).

Women from Guatemala at 4′ 11″ (149 cm), the Philippines  (150 cm), and Bangladesh, Nepal and East Timor (all 151 cm).

The researchers compared data from people who were 18 in 914 with those of the same age in 2014. The difference is partly genetic and partly due to nutrition, sanitation, and health. Particularly important is the mother’s health and nutrition during pregnancy.

Height is a mirror to our social environment” said Professor Majid Ezzati from the School of Public Health at Imperial College.

The biggest increases have been in rapidly developing countries such as Japan and South Korea where women are now 8″ (20 cm) taller than before WW11. Iranian men have grown by the same amount.

Americans have grown by 5cm over the review period but have dropped down the league tables from 3rd for men and 4th for women in 1914 to 37th and 42nd place respectively. This was probably connected to their obesity problem – lots of calories but not good nutrition – said Professor Ezzati.

In sub-Saharan Africa people are actually getting smaller.

Tall people tend to have a longer life expectancy, with a reduced risk of heart disease. On the other hand, there is some evidence that they are at greater risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal, postmenopausal breast and ovarian cancers.

One hypothesis is that growth factors may promote mutated cells,” said another Imperial co-author, Elio Riboli.

I’m always a bit bemused by stories like this about average height because I come from a tall family and am used to being around tall people. 6′ (183 cm) doesn’t seem tall to me yet it’s taller than the average British male.

And being tall does have some advantages at work.

League table showing top 10 from 187 countries surveyed

The nations with the tallest men in 2014 (1914 ranking in brackets):

  1. Netherlands (12)
  2. Belgium (33)
  3. Estonia (4)
  4. Latvia (13)
  5. Denmark (9)
  6. Bosnia and Herzegovina (19)
  7. Croatia (22)
  8. Serbia (30)
  9. Iceland (6)
  10. Czech Republic (24)

The nations with the tallest women in 2014 (1914 ranking in brackets):

  1. Latvia (28)
  2. Netherlands (38)
  3. Estonia (16)
  4. Czech Republic (69)
  5. Serbia (93)
  6. Slovakia (26)
  7. Denmark (11)
  8. Lithuania (41)
  9. Belarus (42)
  10. Ukraine (43)

Source: eLife

Beauty’s only skin deep

How we look is important but to some people it’s everything.

In America 1 in 3 women think the way they look is more important for their self-esteem than intelligence or job performance.

Students said they would rather marry an embezzler, a shop lifter, or a drug smuggler than someone who was obese.

And 11% of them would abort a foetus if they knew it was  genetically disposed to obesity. It’s perhaps no surprise then that fat women are 20% less likely to get married than slimmer ones.

Now Deborah Rhode, the Director of Stanford University’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, has published a book; “The Beauty Bias: The injustice of Appearance in Life and Law”. In it she asks such searching questions as why they spent more on Sarah Palin’s makeover and personal shopper than on a foreign policy advisor?

She discovered that good looking teachers are considered better educators and that attractive lawyers earned 12% more than their plainer colleagues despite being no more competent.

I’ve posted on this topic before, about tallness, attractiveness and earnings and about “erotic capital” and how (usually) women can exploit their looks. Taking a slightly different view Rhode refers to the “bloopsy” effect which is where beautiful women, especially those with big breasts, are considered dumb even if they have a PhD.  Attractive women have been known to be sacked for being too attractive.

But so have unattractive or ugly people and research shows that ugly criminals get longer sentences – one way to beautify the neighbourhood I suppose. Now it’s being suggested that you could be sued for calling people ugly or not attractive enough for a job. Don’t HR people and the diversity police have enough to do?

Updated 14 July 2010: Anyone who watched last year’s Channel 4 programme “The Ugly Face of Beauty” would have been horrified by the sight of operations that went wrong. Or of an England footballer’s relative wanting to have the UK’s biggest boobs (double J) plus an unnecessary liposuction on her size 8 body.

But the really scary part was that 50% of 16-21 year-olds say they would like plastic surgery. “Boob jobs” are the most popular in the UK at around £3,000 (but only £800 in Cuba) with many unscrupulous, not to say unqualified, clinics offering surgery as part of a holiday package. The following week’s programme promised: “tummy tucks” that end up looking like shark bites!

Originally posted by MikethePsych July 2010