The average height of Korean women is now 20 centimeters taller than 100 years ago, according to a study published by Imperial College, London, on Monday.
Korean women and Iranian men showed the highest growth in average height among 200 nationalities, between 1914 and 2014, said the paper by Elio Riboli and James Bentham.
A century ago, South Korean women had an average height of 1.42 m, but their average height is now 1.62 m.
North Korean women’s average height was 1.49 m in 1914, but in 2014 this was 1.59 m.
The same pattern was found among men.
In 1914, North Korean men had an average height of 1.61 m, while South Korean men had an average height of 1.6 m. In 2014, North Korean men were on average 1.72 m tall, while South Korean men were 1.75 m tall.
A century ago, Korean men ranked 150th out of 200 in average height. Now they are 51st.
According to the study, Dutch men, with an average height of 1.83 m, and Latvian women, with an average height of 1.7 m, are the tallest in the world. On the other end of the spectrum, the shortest in the world are South Timor men at 1.6 m and Guatemalan women at 1.5 m.
The Swedish, who were the tallest in 1914, have now slipped down to 14th place for men and 17th place for women.
Bentham said the reasons behind the increasing average heights around the world included improvements in nutrition, hygiene and health care.
“An individual’s genetics has a big influence on (their) height ... but once you average over whole populations, genetics plays a less key (role),” he said. “Most populations would grow to roughly similar heights if they were all in the same conditions.”
Taller heights could be associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease and increased risk of some cancers, said Elio Riboli, the study’s other coauthor and director of the School of Public Health at Imperial College, London.
By Lim Jeong-yeo (firstname.lastname@example.org)