The study of measurement of the human body, such as weight, standing height, and skinfold thickness, is called anthropometry. Anthropo comes from the Greek word meaning “human.” Metry comes from the word “metron,” which means “measure.”

Scientists use these measurements for nutrition assessment and to come up with averages and trends in human growth. Designers can even use anthropometric data to create more ergonomic spaces, furniture, and assistive devices.

The data is also used in national growth charts and to help track changes to disease risk or body composition that might be expected over a person’s lifespan.

That’s why we know what we do about height. Next up are the numbers illustrating the average height for men.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average age-adjusted height for American men 20 years old and up is 69.1 inches (175.4 centimeters) during the years 2015 to 2016. That’s about 5 feet 9 inches tall.

This number comes from data published in December 2018. The data was collected between 1999 and 2016 as part of a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The analytic sample included 47,233 men and women, all at least 20 years of age. Participants reported their ages, races, and whether they were of Hispanic origin. The average height of 5 feet 9 inches takes all groups into account.

How does that measurement compare to other countries? Let’s take a look.

As you can imagine, the range of average heights across the world is quite broad.

A 2016 study showed that Iranian men have seen the biggest change in height over the last century, gaining about 6.7 inches (17 centimeters).

The researchers are a part of a global group of health scientists known as the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration. They explained that both biological factors (such as genetic predisposition) and socioeconomic factors (such as access to quality foods) can affect the range in heights.

Average heights for men in 15 countries

The table below includes 2016 data from the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration. It shows average heights for men born between 1918 and 1996, and it’s based on an analysis of hundreds of population-based studies.

CountryAverage Height
The Netherlands5 ft 11.9 in (182.5 cm)
Germany5 ft 10.8 in (179.9 cm)
Australia5 ft 10.6 in (179.2 cm)
Canada5 ft 10.1 in (178.1 cm)
United Kingdom5 ft 9.9 in (177.5 cm)
Jamaica5 ft 8.7 in (174.5 cm)
Brazil5 ft 8.3 in (173.6 cm)
Iran5 ft 8.3 in (173.6 cm)
China5 ft 7.6 in (171.8 cm)
Japan5 ft 7.2 in (170.8 cm)
Mexico5 ft 6.5 in (169 cm)
Nigeria5 ft 5.3 in (165.9 cm)
Peru5 ft 5 in (165.2 cm)
India5 ft 4.9 in (164.9 cm)
The Philippines5 ft 4.25 in (163.2 cm)

There are no international standards with regard to measuring and reporting height.

Some discrepancies may be attributed to self-reporting versus controlled measuring or to the ages of individuals who are recorded. Discrepancies may also be the result of:

  • the percentage of the population measured
  • the year the measurements were taken
  • data being averaged over time

If everyone in your family is tall, good chances are that you might be, too. After all, a person’s height is primarily influenced by genetics. However, environmental factors also play an important role in the process.

Nutrition and a person’s access to nutrient-dense whole foods — like fresh fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy products, and whole grains — can have an impact on overall health and growth. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that malnutrition affects every country on the globe and that children’s access to adequate nutrition can impact both height and weight.

How much sleep a person gets during the childhood and teen years may also influence how much human growth hormone (HGH) is released, impacting overall growth and weight.

Even a person’s posture may make a difference in height, especially if you develop a hunch from slouching.

Medical conditions that cause extremes in height

Extreme tall height is referred to as gigantism by the medical community. And there are various medical conditions that may lead to gigantism.

Acromegaly is an endocrine (hormonal) disorder where the body produces too much growth hormone, leading to tall stature. Pituitary tumors (adenoma) may cause acromegaly. Tumors form on the pituitary gland and cause too much growth hormone to be released.

Gigantism is also related to other conditions, including:

  • Carney complex
  • McCune-Albright syndrome (MAS)
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN-1)
  • Neurofibromatosis

On the other end of the spectrum, dwarfism is the medical term for extreme short stature. There are upward of 300 conditions that cause dwarfism. Most of these conditions are genetic.

For example, achondroplasia is a genetic disorder that affects bone growth. People who have this condition may have a normal-sized torso with shorter arms and legs and overall shorter stature.

Some other conditions related to dwarfism include:

There is a positive correlation between height and body mass index (BMI) in young children. This means that with taller stature generally comes a larger BMI number. One English study shows that as a person gets older, there may be an inverse BMI to height relationship, particularly with women and older adults. This basically means that as a person gets taller, their BMI may be lower, on average.

BMI takes only height and weight into account, however. It isn’t a perfect measure of a person’s health. There are other factors that can influence a person’s weight, like fat mass vs. muscle mass.

It may be tricky to measure your height at home without some help. If you’d like to see where you stand, consider asking a friend or family member to help you.

Measuring your height with a partner

  1. Move to a room with hard flooring (no carpet) and a wall that’s clear of art or other obstructions.
  2. Remove shoes and any clothing or accessories that might skew your results. Take out ponytails or braids that might prevent your head from resting flat against a wall.
  3. Stand with feet together and heels against the wall. Straighten arms and legs. Your shoulders should be level. You may ask your partner to confirm that you’re in proper form.
  4. Look straight ahead and fix your gaze so that your line of sight is parallel with the floor.
  5. Make sure your head, shoulders, butt, and heels are all touching the wall. Due to body shape, not all parts of your body may touch, but try your best. Before taking any measurements, you should also inhale deeply and stand erect.
  6. Have your partner mark your height by using a flat headpiece, such as a wall-mounted ruler or other straight object, like a book. The tool should be lowered until it touches the crown of your head with firm contact.
  7. Your partner should mark only once, making sure their eyes are at the same level of the measurement tool, carefully marking where it meets the wall.
  8. Use a tape measure to determine your height from the floor to the mark.
  9. Record your height to the nearest 1/8th inch or 0.1 centimeter.

Measuring your height by yourself

If you don’t have another person to help you, you may still be able to measure your height at home. Consider purchasing an inexpensive wall-mounted meter specifically for height, or follow the steps below:

  1. Stand on a flat surface with a clear wall that doesn’t prevent your body from making full contact.
  2. Stand tall with shoulders flat against the wall and slide a flat object, like a book or cutting board, along the wall until you can bring it down to make firm contact with the top of your head.
  3. Mark under the object where it lands.
  4. Use a tape measure to determine your height from the floor to the mark.
  5. Record your height to the nearest 1/8th inch or 0.1 centimeter.

At the doctor’s office

You may get a relatively accurate measure at home, especially if you have help and follow all of the steps. However, it may be a good idea to get your height measured at your doctor’s office as part of a routine physical exam.

The equipment at your doctor’s office may be better calibrated, and a healthcare professional may be better trained at gathering the most precise measurement.

The tallest man to ever walk the earth was Robert Pershing Wadlow from Alton, Illinois. He stood at a whopping 8 feet 11.1 inches tall. The shortest? Chandra Bahadur Dangi of Rhimkholi, Nepal. He was just 21.5 inches tall at a measurement in 2012, the last before his death in 2015.

Currently, the tallest and shortest living males are 8 feet 2.8 inches and 2 feet 2.41 inches, respectively.

There are certainly trends with regard to height in the United States and worldwide. However, it’s important to remember humans come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Countless factors affect height, including age, nutrition, and health conditions. Averages can help statisticians observe health and growth trends, but they shouldn’t serve as a measure of self-worth.