Sultan Kösen is the tallest man alive at a shocking 8 feet 1 inch tall (246.5 cm). Yes, this is an extreme height, and not many men in the US can compare.
But how tall is the average man in the United States? Keep reading to find out the average height for men in the US vs the world, plus some factors influencing height and how to accurately measure height.
What is the Average Height for Men in the US?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last published information on the average height of men in the US in 2018, using data collected in 2015 and 2016.
In that report, the CDC found that the height of an average American male aged 20 years and above was 69.1 inches or 5 feet 9 inches, which is 175.4 centimeters in metric units.
Average Male Height in the World Compared
The average male height in the US is relatively even, without too much deviation due to population homogeneity. The same goes for the average height for men in Canada and the average male height in China.
However, you start to see the difference when you compare the average height for men in feet across global populations.
Here is a handy table that samples the average heights of males worldwide.
|Average Male Height (Feet & Inches)
|Average Male Height (Centimeters)
What Factors Influence Height?
The height of a man depends on factors like nature (e.g., genetics) and nurture (e.g., early years nutrition). If you are wondering why men are as tall as they are, here are the top six factors that determine height:
Genes contained in DNA are the most critical factor determining a man’s height. Scientists have identified more than seven hundred different genes that play a role in determining an individual’s height.
Genetics is why some families have ‘tall genes’ while others have ‘short genes.’ In most cases, the height genes are inherited, determining the height of subsequent generations.
Genetics also comes into play on the different heights around the world, primarily due to genetic variation among different races and ethnicities.
Males are statistically taller than females in all populations around the world.
Males growing up are almost certain of being taller than their female counterparts, becoming an average of 14 centimeters (5.5 inches) taller by the time they stop growing.
In the United States, for example, the average height of females is 162.56 centimeters, a 14.38-centimeter difference from the average male height.
One of the main reasons for this difference is that female growth slows down and stops sooner than male growth, resulting in long bones in males and shorter bones in females.
Human Growth Hormone Production
Human growth hormone (HGH) or somatotropin aids growth in children and adolescents. The pituitary gland produces the hormone which stimulates growth through cell reproduction and regeneration.
HGH directly influences how tall you will be. In some, low HGH levels lead to stunted growth and dwarfism. In others, too much HGH production leads to gigantism.
However, in most people, HGH levels remain within a normal range, resulting in average heights that are neither too tall nor short.
Sleep Hormone Production
The sleep hormone melatonin is next to HGH on the list of important hormones linked to height. Growth occurs during sleep in children and adolescents, so the body’s ability to sleep for extended periods is crucial to development.
If a child has chronically interrupted sleep due to conditions like sleep apnea, it can interfere with their ability to grow. In such cases, the child may have stunted growth and end up being shorter than the average male height in their country.
Nutrition In the Early Years
Nutrition provides the building blocks for growth. If those building blocks are insufficient or of inadequate quality, the body will not have the materials it needs for maximum growth.
Poor nutrition is a leading cause of stunted growth and lower-than-normal heights.
It is important to note that nutrition has maximum benefits from the early years until the end of adolescence. After this, most growth is complete, and eating healthy foods might not significantly impact one’s height.
Exercise strengthens the bones and muscles, increases the body’s load-bearing capabilities, and averts stunted growth.
In addition, training and activities generally stretch and manipulate the limbs, making them more flexible and increasing the body’s capacity to grow.
Younger people need lots of play and activities to maximize their growth capabilities. An active lifestyle also stimulates other hormones like melatonin when the child gets tired, increasing the hours the child will sleep.
How to Accurately Measure Height
When you visit the doctor’s office, the nurse measures your height with a stadiometer, a sliding ruler mounted on a stand.
Stadiometers are the best way to accurately measure your height because they are designed to measure your exact height.
If you do not have access to a stadiometer, you can measure your height accurately in the following way:
- Remove your shoes and stand on a flat, uncarpeted surface against a wall
- Have someone place a flat object like a book or cereal box on your head and mark the place the object meets your head
- If you are alone, you can hold the object in place, move aside and mark where the bottom of the object touched your head
Why Knowing the Average Height in America Important
Measuring the average height of a man in the US and around the world helps scientists understand development patterns and how different populations grow. This data is essential for calculating things like medicine ingredients and other treatments.
For designers and manufacturers, this data gives them the information they need to create products that would fit the average person, such as chairs, beds, doors, cars, and so on.
Will Humans Get Taller in the Future?
The average height for men in the United States has increased by just three centimeters since the 1700s. Scientists do not see this increase as a prediction that heights will continue increasing indefinitely.
Instead, they believe these variances have more to do with gene expressions through different generations and not that all men are destined to grow taller over time.
What is clear is that the average height for men in the US will remain constant over the coming years, although varying from family to family due to various genetic and environmental factors.