What is the average height for women worldwide?

Over the last two hundred years, the average height for women worldwide has steadily risen, based on factors like environment, ethnicity, and national origin. How tall are you? Are you short or tall? Would your height have changed if you had been born at a different time? Come with us to find the answer now!

The average height for women in the USA

The average height for U.S. female adults over 20 is 5 feet 4 inches (or about 63.7 inches).

Women’s height by ethnicity in the USA

Ethnicity

Mean height (inches)

Mean height (Centimeters)

Hispanic

5 feet 2 inches (62 inches)

157.5

Non-Hispanic White

5 feet 3.9 inches (63.9 inches)

162.4

Non-Hispanic Black

5 feet 4 inches (64 inches)

162.5

Non-Hispanic Asian

5 feet 1.5 inches (61.5 inches)

156.3

Mexican American

5 feet 1.7 inches (61.7 inches)

156.8

Indeed, this number has increased over time. Basically, in the early 1900s, women between 20 and 29 had an average height of 62.4 inches [1]. Then there have been steady changes that led to almost two full inches taller.

But compared to other nations, growth for Americans is slowing down. Some reckon that issues with food access or opting for lower-quality foods that do not have enough nutrients. Also, immigration affects changes in height over time in a particular region [2].

The average height for women worldwide

Many unofficial sources report a global mean height for female adults as 5 feet 3 inches or an inch taller. The table below will share a couple of the mean heights reported for women in some countries.

Country

Average Height (inches)

Average Height (Centimeters)

Netherlands

67.0

170.2

Denmark

66.9

169.9

Norway

66.7

169.4

Canada

65.9

167.4

Belgium

65.8

167.1

Germany

65.7

166.8

Australia

65.6

166.5

United Kingdom

65.5

166.2

France

65.3

165.6

Sweden

65.2

165.3

Finland

65.1

165.1

Switzerland

65.0

164.8

Austria

64.9

164.6

New Zealand

64.8

164.3

Spain

64.6

163.8

Italy

64.5

163.5

Greece

64.4

163.2

Japan

63.7

161.8

What affects height?

Genetics

We all know that genetics is the main influence on height. About 60 to 80% of height difference results from genetic makeup. That means if your parents are tall, a child is likely to be tall. Besides, genetic conditions affect height and other developmental factors. For instance, Turner syndrome might make women have below-average height.

Location

Do you know that where you grow up can influence how tall you become? It is true because location affects how you get certain resources and nutrients.

Important location-based factors include:

  • Clean water
  • Sanitation
  • Available food (or nutrition)
  • Local climate
  • Access to vaccinations
  • Availability of quality healthcare for pregnant women and kids

Nutrient deficiencies

Our body needs carbohydrates, protein, fibers, fats, minerals, and vitamins to grow. So, if a child does not get enough nutrients, they can become malnourished. This might lead to a short height when they grow up.

Research points out that children who consume high-quality protein have better growth outcomes [3]. In case they lack the nutrients mentioned above, they can get marasmus, affecting growth and causing weight loss [4].

Also, getting inadequate iron from red meat and seafood results in shorter frames. Studies reveal iron deficiency anemia decreases growth during infancy, childhood, and adolescence. Especially, female teens tend to lack iron from losing blood during heavy periods.

Hormones 

Human growth hormones (HGH) play a vital role in determining a person’s height. No matter where you live, you need these hormones to grow and develop normally.

Sleep

Sleep is necessary to help the body thrive. It also stimulates growth hormone production. Kids need a suitable sleep time for normal growth, depending on different ages.

Family environment

A positive and caring home is vital for growth during pre-adolescent years, especially for girls [5]. It is true because negative experiences or trauma might hurt a child’s ability to develop. Living in this environment makes them likely to get more illness and less growth.

Is there any relationship between height and weight?

Aside from determining height, people often use body mass index (BMI) to examine for potential health-related risk factors. So, how do you calculate your BMI?

There are different formulas to calculate BMI for adults and children.

Try one and then compare the number with the ranges below.

  • Anything under 18.5 is underweight.
  • Anything between 18.5 and 24.9 is healthy.
  • Anything between 25 and 29.9 is overweight.
  • Anything above 30 is obese.

BMI is a good guideline, but it is not always accurate for everyone and should not be the only measure of health. The limitation is that this formula does not consider where fat is stored in the body. For instance, female athletes might weigh more and overestimate their BMI due to their higher muscle mass. Meanwhile, older women tend to store more body fat and might get an underestimated BMI.

What happens if your weight does not align with your height?

Having extra weight on the same size frame might result in different health issues, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even stroke. Moreover, a larger waistline might contribute to osteoarthritis, fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, and certain types of cancer.

Being either underweight or overweight might make you experience more issues, especially when you are pregnant. If you are underweight, your baby might get a low birth weight. Meanwhile, if you are overweight, it might lead to long-lasting effects for both mother and baby like preterm birth, high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes.

the average height for women

What should you do to control your weight?

Diet is one big reason American women have gained more pounds than inches. For your reference, their average BMI in 2016 was 29.6 while that number was just 28.2 in 1999 [6]. So, what should you do? Let’s check out some good tips to start!

Pay attention to whole foods

The best thing is to focus on the foods at the grocery stores instead of the packaged foods. Look for low-fat dairy, lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

Drink plenty of water

Studies have pointed out that drinking more water might help reduce your appetite and make you eat less, as well as help burn more calories [7]. But how much is enough? Each person needs different amounts of water, women should aim to take 11.5 cups of fluids every day.

Move the body

Getting 75 minutes of vigorous physical activities (cycling or running) or 150 minutes of moderate activities (doing yoga or walking) every week is recommended.

Keep a food diary

If you cannot control what you eat daily, keeping a food diary helps you stop bad habits. Record everything you consume, even how many glasses of water in a day. Or, you can write how you are feeling when eating particular foods.

In conclusion,

Understanding the average height for women worldwide is a way to screen general health as well as living conditions for a population. But again, it is not the only factor to consider. Genetics and environmental factors mentioned above always play a vital role in determining how tall a woman is.

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