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Will humans keep getting taller?
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Humankind has transformed in the last century-and-a-half. Our global population has soared from a mere billion to more than seven billion. In developed countries, average life expectancy has skyrocketed from 45-odd years in the mid-1800s to about 80 years nowadays. And we’ve even changed physically: a good chunk of our species is now taller than it's ever been. Height gains in the US have not kept pace with Europe — Why? It could be diet The average human height has gone up in industrialised countries ranging from the United Kingdom to the United States to Japan, with gains of up to 10 centimetres. But for height gains over the last 150 years, one nation stands head and shoulders above all others. Today, Dutch men and women average around 188cm and 170cm in height, respectively – both, on average, 20cm taller than their mid-19th Century counterparts. "That's a good number to shock people with," says John Komlos, professor emeritus of economic history at the University of Munich. Why have humans in general, and the Dutch in particular, got taller? Does this altitudinous trend show any sign of continuing and, for that matter, where might it end? Will our descendants living on space stations or on other worlds look upon their Earth-bound ancestors as hobbits? Does a body good Questions such as these inspired Komlos back in the 1980s as he pioneered the field of anthropometric history. It explores how the waxing and waning in a population's average stature varies according to economic and social conditions. In particular, Komlos dug through archives of governmental military records – which happen to track soldiers' heights – to explore the relationship.
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