This was reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and applies to women over the age of 20. Meanwhile, the average height for men of a similar age in the U.S. is around 5 feet 9 inches.
Nutrition and other health factors may explain height differences among various populations, and some may have limits to potential height. Immigration may also influence these averages.
- Each country has its own reporting methods. There is no global average for women's height.
- Height is dependent on a variety of factors.
- On average, men are taller than women all over the world.
Evolution of height in women
Average body shape and size change with time. For example, the average woman in the 1960s stood at 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighed around 140 pounds. The average woman now weighs 168 pounds, showing an increase of 28 pounds.
Average height for women in the U.S. has only increased by an inch over the same period, indicating that weight is increasing much faster than height.
Decline in rate of height in America
Many factors may determine the average height for women.
On average, height in the U.S. has increased at a slower rate than the global median.
The average height of a person in the U.S. has also increased more slowly than the height of their counterparts in other high-income countries, according to a 2016 survey.
This has not always been the case. In 1914, men in America were the third-tallest in the world and women the fourth-tallest.
A century later, these women were the 42nd-tallest in the world, and men the 37th-tallest.
Among men, the Netherlands had the tallest average, at 6 feet in 2014. That same year, the tallest average for women — 5 feet 7 inches — was reported in Latvia.
Authors of the 2016 survey noted that slowed increases in height among people in America may be related to worsening nutrition. They also mentioned immigration of people from countries whose people are typically shorter in height, and lower qualities of obstetric and pediatric healthcare as potential factors.
Worldwide average height for women
Many unofficial sources report a global average height for women as 5 feet 3 inches or an inch taller.
Here are some worldwide trends in height for women aged 18–40 from the website World Data:
- The average height of European women is 5 feet 6 inches.
- In many parts of Asia, including China, the average woman's height is about 5 feet.
- The average height for women in North America is slightly below the average for women in the U.S. Average heights for women in the U.S. and Canada are the same, while the same average in Mexico is just below 5 feet 2 inches.
- According to the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), the shortest average heights for women are recorded in South Asia and Guatemala, at under 5 feet.
What influences height?
Some factors are natural, while others relate to the standard of living.
Genetics is the primary influence on height. Around 60 to 80 percent of height difference is the result of genetic makeup. If both parents are short, a child is likely to be short.
Some genetic conditions affect height and other developmental factors. One example specific to women is Turner syndrome, which results in below-average height.
Height may be affected by where a person grows up.
Where a person grows up can affect how tall they become. Significant location-based factors include:
- the cleanliness of water
- access to vaccinations
- access to quality healthcare, especially during childhood and pregnancy
Human growth hormone (HGH) helps to determine a person's height and other related factors. Regardless of where a person lives, their height will be inhibited if they lack this hormone.
Sleep helps to promote growth hormones. For normal development, a child should get 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night.
Negative experiences and trauma can harm a child's ability to develop. When a child resides in a place that is not nurturing, they are likely to experience more illness and less growth.
Research shows that a supportive home environment is particularly important for adequate growth in pre-adolescent years, especially for girls.
Men tend to be taller than women, and during puberty boys typically experience a longer and more rapid period of growth. Girls usually stop growing taller by age 19, while boys continue until age 22. On average, men are up to 6 inches taller than women.
These differences can be linked to chromosomes. Researchers have found that genetic variants on the X chromosomes are responsible for a range of distinctions between men and women, including height.
People who possess some of these variants tend to be shorter. Because genetically women tend to have two X chromosomes, they are more likely to have these gene variations.
The average height of women varies around the world. In the U.S., the average woman is around 5 feet 4 inches. While this is the tallest average recorded in the country's history, average weight is increasing faster than height.
Men tend to be about 6 inches taller than women, and genetics plays an important part in this distinction. The environment in which a person is raised also contributes to their height. Access to nutrition and healthcare, nurturing at home, and a certain amount of sleep can help to promote growth and other developmental factors.
If a child is growing at an unusual rate without explanation, a doctor may recommend growth hormone treatment.