Data Max


Average Male Height in the US and Globally

Table of Contents

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the average height for men in the U.S. is 5 feet 9 inches or 69.1 inches (175.4 centimeters). This data was compiled as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), conducted from 1999 to 2016.

However, it is important to remember that the term "average" means that half of the adult male population will be taller than this measurement, while the other half will be shorter.

Genetic factors primarily determine the height of an individual, but other factors can also play a role, including environmental factors such as nutrition. In fact, over the past hundred years, the average height for men has increased due to better nutrition.

How is Height Data Collected?

National health agencies collect vital statistics on average heights to track and calculate average heights. These agencies collect standing height at age two and use a digital stadiometer to measure individuals to the nearest 0.1 cm. A stadiometer is a height-measuring device with a vertical ruler and a sliding horizontal stick or rod placed on the top of the head.

It is also worth noting that average heights can vary depending on location. For instance, the average height for men in the U.S. differs from that of men in other countries.

How to Measure Height at Home

You don't need specialized equipment to measure your height accurately at home. All you need is a pencil and a metal measuring tape. First, remove your shoes and socks, and stand against a flat wall without molding at the bottom. Your entire body should make contact with the wall from your heels to your head, with your gaze parallel to the ground.

Next, hold the pencil horizontally along the top of your head and make a small mark on the wall to denote your height. Finally, use the measuring tape to measure the distance from the floor to the pencil mark. In the U.S., height is typically measured in feet and inches, so round your measurement to the nearest eighth of an inch.

By following these best practices, you can measure your height accurately and determine whether you fall within the average range for your gender and age. It's important to note that accurate height measurements can also be helpful for monitoring growth and development, as well as for certain medical procedures and treatments.

Historical Height and Men's Height Trends

Height among American men has been steadily increasing over the past few decades. Statistics on body mass index (BMI), a metric that considers both height and weight, have been gathered since the late 1950s, and they show that average male heights have been rising gradually for the previous 400 years.

Men in the early Massachusetts colony of the Pilgrims averaged roughly 66 inches in height (1620), while enlistees in the United States Army averaged 68.1 inches in height that same year (1943). The typical adult male was 69.3 inches (5 feet 9 inches) tall in 2010.

It's worth noting, though, that men's average height has risen by only a few inches over the past 10,000 years despite this tendency. Men's average height has been determined to be about 168 cm, or about 5 feet and 5 inches, based on the investigation of skeletons dating back to the Mesolithic era.

According to specialists, improvements in health and nutrition have played a crucial part in recent average height rises. There are now more efficient strategies for preventing disease, promoting health in a child's formative years, and postponing the onset of degeneration in older adults.

However, there is consensus amongst specialists that the maximum adult human height may have already been reached.

Body mass index (BMI) is commonly used for measuring future health status and consequences, however it is crucial to remember that it has limitations and does not account for various characteristics, including body composition, ethnicity, race, gender, and age. Despite this, it is still a rapid and cheap way for doctors to assess possible health condition and outcomes.

Global Average Heights for Men

The average height for men varies greatly across different parts of the world. For instance, in the Netherlands and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the average height for men is just over 6 feet tall, while in some parts of Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, the average height is around 5 feet 4 inches or less.

On the other hand, the tallest men come from the Nilotic people of the Sudan, where the average height is around 6 feet 3 inches. It is important to note that these are just a few examples and that many other countries have varying average heights for men.

Here is a list of average male heights in various countries, ranked from highest to lowest:

Sudan6 feet 3 inches
Netherlands6 feet
Montenegro6 feet
Denmark5 feet 11 inches
Norway5 feet 11 inches
Serbia5 feet 11 inches
Croatia5 feet 11 inches
Bosnia and Herzegovina5 feet 11 inches
Germany5 feet 10 inches
Canada5 feet 10 inches
United Kingdom5 feet 9 inches
United States5 feet 9 inches
Australia5 feet 9 inches
Japan5 feet 7 inches
China5 feet 6 inches
India5 feet 5 inches

These numbers can vary from one study to another, and it's important to remember that average heights are just that - averages. They don't necessarily represent the entire population, and significant variation can exist within a given country or region.

Factors that Affect Height

Various factors, including genetics, nutrition, illness, and geographic factors influence average height of a population. While genetics plays a significant role in determining a person's height, other factors can also contribute.


Genetics is one of the most important factors that influence a person's height. Studies have shown that height is highly heritable, meaning that it is largely determined by genetic factors. An analysis of twin studies has found that genetic factors can account for up to 80% of the variation in height between individuals. This suggests that if both parents are tall, their children are likely to also be tall.

However, height is not determined by a single gene. Instead, it is influenced by a complex interplay of multiple genes. Scientists have identified over 700 genetic variants that are associated with height, each of which contributes a small amount to a person's overall height.

Some genes play a role in bone growth and development, while others influence hormonal regulation or other biological processes that impact height. By studying these genetic variants, scientists hope to understand better the biological mechanisms that regulate height, and potentially develop new treatments for growth disorders.


Studies have shown that a lack of proper nutrition during childhood and adolescence can lead to stunted growth and decreased height potential. Specifically, a diet that is rich in high-quality proteins, calcium, and vitamin D is important for promoting bone growth and development. Protein is particularly important for building and repairing tissues, including bone tissue, while calcium and vitamin D are important for bone mineralization and strength.

It is not just the amount of nutrition that is important, but also the timing. Proper nutrition is crucial for achieving maximum height potential when the body is growing and developing rapidly during childhood and adolescence. Research suggests that the first two years of life are particularly critical for ensuring adequate nutrition and promoting optimal growth. On the other hand, malnutrition or undernourishment during this period can lead to permanent growth deficits.


On the other hand, illnesses that impact food intake or absorption, such as diarrhea-causing infections, respiratory infections, and certain diseases, can hinder height development.


Geographic factors can also play a role in determining height. For instance, the duration of sunlight throughout the day can affect thyroid hormones, impacting height.

It is important to note that while these factors can impact height, genetics is still the most significant factor. An analysis of twin studies found that genes play a major role in determining height, especially as a person ages. However, individuals can maximize their height potential by ensuring proper nutrition and health.

Medical conditions that cause extremes in height

People come in all shapes and sizes; height is one of the most noticeable physical characteristics. However, in some cases, extreme height can be a sign of a medical condition. This section will explore the medical conditions that can cause gigantism or abnormally high stature.

Gigantism: A Medical Condition that Causes Extreme Height

Gigantism, also known as giantism, is a rare medical condition that causes excessive growth in height and other body parts. It occurs when the pituitary gland produces too much growth hormone during childhood and adolescence, resulting in well above average mens height.

Gigantism results from hyperplasia or hypertrophy of growth hormone-secreting cells of the anterior pituitary gland. Excessive hormone production leads to excessive growth, which can result in an individual growing abnormally tall.

Acromegaly: An Endocrine Imbalance that Triggers Gigantism

Acromegaly is a disorder that occurs in adults and is caused by the overproduction of growth hormone. The excess hormone production occurs after the closure of the growth plates during puberty.

Unlike gigantism, which occurs during childhood, acromegaly can cause abnormal growth in bones and other tissues in adults. It is most commonly caused by a benign tumor in the pituitary gland that secretes growth hormone, leading to abnormally high hormone levels in the bloodstream.

Tumors and Gigantism: A Connection Worth Knowing

Pituitary tumors are the most common cause of excessive growth hormone production in gigantism and acromegaly. These tumors occur in the pituitary gland, which is a small gland located at the base of the brain. The gland produces hormones that regulate growth and other bodily functions. Tumors can develop in this gland, causing the excessive production of growth hormones.

Dwarfism: The Opposite of Gigantism

Dwarfism is a medical condition that causes individuals to have an abnormally short height. It is usually caused by genetics and occurs when bones do not grow at a normal rate. There are more than 300 conditions that can cause dwarfism, with the most common being achondroplasia. This condition is caused by a mutation in the FGFR3 gene, which results in shorter limbs and a larger head.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the average height of men has been steadily increasing over the past few decades, with many national health agencies reporting a taller average height. While nutrition, genetics, and other factors can influence height, measuring standing height accurately remains essential to understand human growth and growth trends.

Measuring a person's height accurately requires standardized methods, such as using a flat wall or a sliding horizontal stick, with a straight-ahead posture. Furthermore, birth weight and growth hormone also play a significant role in determining a person's height. Standardized measurements, coupled with better health and nutrition examination surveys, will continue to aid in understanding average height and growth patterns.


  1. NCD Risk Factor Collaboration. (2016). A century of trends in adult human height. eLife, 5, e13410. Link:
  2. Komlos, J., & Baten, J. (2016). Looking backward and looking forward: Anthropometric research and the development of social science history. The Oxford Handbook of Economic and Social History, 342-362. Link:
  3. Fryar, C. D., Gu, Q., & Ogden, C. L. (2020). Anthropometric reference data for children and adults: United States, 2015-2018. National Center for Health Statistics. Link:
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Prevalence of obesity among adults and youth: United States, 2015–2016. NCHS data brief, no 288. National Center for Health Statistics. Link:
William H. McDaniel, MD

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top