Times have changed, and so have peoples’ heights

I saw this article recently on the Yonhap News Agency about the average height of Koreans changing in the last century. From the end of the Joseon Dynasty to now, the average height for Korean people increased by 12cm. The article, available in mobile-phone format, attributes the increased height to improved nutrition and access to medical care.

It reminded me of a story a professor in college once told us years ago. She had travelled to Japan in the 1960’s as a student, and later in late 1990’s she travelled again. This time, she felt that Japanese were noticeably taller than they were on her last visit., and she felt this was because Japanese ate more meat and proteins than before. I don’t know if it’s true or not; it’s strictly anecdotal.

However, the heights of Europeans have also changed as well. Napoleon is usually stereotyped as being short, however his height of 1.7meters was normal at the time. Nowadays, the average height for French males is slightly taller at 1.74meters.

So it seems that in industrialized countries around the world, Western and Asian, people are getting taller thanks to better food, medicine and child care.

Just something interesting I found.


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

2 thoughts on “Times have changed, and so have peoples’ heights”

  1. There was a research about Asians and heights. Why they are shorter than Westerners. Food would be the most obvious for most of us. But surprisingly food wasn’t the biggest issue(although it does help). Most Asian households don’t use chair or sofa to sit, they sit on the floor. You would know if you sit long enough on the floor, you can’t just substain one pose. You feel your lower leg getting numb. Apparently sitting on a chair doesn’t prevent one getting taller as sitting on the floor was what the research concluded.
    On general there is more than this about human heights. Genetics, rest, wellbeing, food should also not neglected. Sitting habit of Asians never crossed my mind but it made kinda sense.

    I know there is a tradition in Japanese tea ceremony (also martial arts) sitting in Seiza pose and they take a pride in holding the pose longer than non trained people. This is just an example but Japanese are known not showing signs of weakness. Maybe that habit, traditional thinking is bad for getting taller.

    Sorry for my English
    greeting from Germany:p


    1. Hi Bosch,

      My wife had suggested the same thing, but we didn’t know someone had done research on it. Interesting.

      It’s certainly possible, though overall, world heights have increased too due to improved medical conditions.

      A win for everyone I guess. 🙂


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