What Is the Average Height for Men?

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The average height for men has increased over the past hundred years. This is largely due to better nutrition. Though, other factors can play a role in determining a man's height as well.

Average heights are calculated and tracked through vital statistics collected by national health agencies. These agencies start collecting standing height at the age of two, measuring individuals to the nearest 0.1 cm with a digital stadiometer.

A stadiometer is a height-measuring device with a vertical ruler and a sliding horizontal stick or rod that is placed on the top of the head.

Average Height for Men in the U.S.

The National Center for Health Statistics has reported that the average height for an adult male is 69.1 inches (175.4 centimeters), or roughly 5 feet 9 inches. This data was compiled as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted from 1999 to 2016.

Keep in mind that average means half of the adult male population will be taller and half will be shorter. As with skin tone and eye color, height isn't something you can change—only camouflage. Learn more about trends for adult men and what to expect as a boy grows.

How Have Average Heights Changed for Men?

Measurements of body mass index, weight, height, and even head circumference have been collected in the U.S. since the late 1950s. Men have been getting increasingly taller in that short span of a few decades.

One of the earliest reports stated that "men in the general civilian population average 68.2 inches in height," a little more than an inch shorter than what is expected today. Previous to this time, there have been historic glimpses that suggest that the average height has been creeping up steadily in the past 400 years.

Historic Male Heights in the U.S.

  • Men in the Pilgrim's early Massachusetts colony are believed to have averaged around 66 inches in height (1620)
  • Civil War soldiers reportedly averaged 67.7 inches (1863)
  • United States soldiers averaged 67.5 inches (1917)
  • United States Army recruits averaged 68.1 inches (1943)
  • The average adult male was 69.3 inches in 2010.

This probably does not mean that men will keep growing taller as time passes. Despite the evidence of growth, the archeological examination of skeletons from as far back as the Mesolithic period showed that a man's height was roughly in the range of 168 centimeters, or roughly 5 feet 5 inches. That translates to a mere four inches over 10,000 years.

As far as recent gains in height, it is believed that better health and nutrition have played a major part in this growth spurt. Today, there are effective ways to prevent illness and promote health during a child's formative years.

There are more means to delay degeneration as a person gets older, preventing the deterioration of bone and muscle that can lead to a loss of height. Most experts, as a result, believe that the height potential may have pretty much maxed out.

Average Height for Men Worldwide

When compared to men in other parts of the world, the American male sits pretty much in the middle of the national averages.

In some countries, like the Netherlands and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the average height is just over 6 feet tall. In parts of Asia—particularly Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines)—the average falls around 5 feet 4 inches or less.

Meanwhile, the tallest men overall appear to come from the Nilotic people of the Sudan, where the average height has been pegged at 6 feet 3 inches. Here are a few average male heights in various countries, ranked from highest to lowest.

Average Male Heights Globally
 Country  Average Male Height
Netherlands  6'
Denmark 5'11
Bermuda 5'10
Canada 5'10
Hungary 5'9
South Korea 5'9
Bahamas 5'8
Thailand 5'7
Honduras 5'6
India 5'5
Guatemala 5'4

Average Height for Boys

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares the median heights for boys up to 20 years of age. According to the data, a 6-year-old child in the 50th percentile for height is around 44 inches tall, or just under four feet. At 12 years of age, the median height for a boy in the 50th percentile is 58 inches, or just under five feet.

While genetics play a major role in determining how tall a boy will eventually be, it's no guarantee. A tall father can end up having a shorter son, or vice versa. Moreover, some kids thrive better than others during their developmental years.

In the end, there is no set pattern and few things that can be done to contribute to a boy's height. While predicting whether a boy's height is not always easy, there are a few general benchmarks you can follow.

Benchmarks for Growth in Boys:

  • Boys 2 to 9 years of age will average 34 inches at the onset and reach an average of 50 inches by the end of the ninth year.
  • Boys 10 to 14 will experience growth from 55 inches to 65 inches during this period.
  • Boys 15 to 18 will grow from 68 inches to 70 inches and continue to grow incrementally for a few years after.

Factors That Influence Height

Many factors can affect or influence male height. Here are a few to consider.

  • Genetics: An analysis of 45 different twin studies found that a child's genes can impact their height, and this impact increases as they get older, generally peaking at roughly 14 years of age in boys.
  • Nutrition: The amount of nutrition in a male's diet, especially in their early years, has been found to contribute to height potential. Some studies have even found that specific nutrients matter as well, such as one connecting increased height with eating high-quality proteins.
  • Illness: Research indicates that illnesses or disease that impact food intake or absorption can also affect height. This includes diarrhea-causing infections, respiratory infections, and even childhood fevers.
  • Geographic factors: Where a child grows up may also contribute to how tall they get. For example, one study noted that shorter bouts of daylight increases thyroid hormones, thus increasing height, whereas longer durations of sunshine throughout the day contribute to taller heights.

A Word From Verywell

If you are concerned that your son is not reaching the developmental benchmarks, speak with your pediatrician. If a boy falls beneath the benchmarks, it doesn't mean that he is too short, needs growth hormone, or is not developing as he should.

You can track your son's development by using either a growth chart or a percentile calculator. Both can provide healthy guidance in conjunction with routine medical visits.

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