Land of the giants

12 Jul 2023
Land of the giants

Australian youngsters are shooting up, with the average five-year-old boy now 3.2cm taller than his 1990 counterpart and the average five year-old girl taller by 2.5cm. 

However, the rise of youngsters has its limits – and experts believe Australians are nearing their maximum genetic height limit. 

Between 1990 and 2020, Australian five-year-old boys shot up from an average of 112.7cm to 115.9cm, while girls went from 111.8cm to 114.3cm. Improved nutrition in the early years of life is a key driver and is why some children today tower over their parents and grandparents who did not achieve their “genetic potential” as youngsters. 

Data detailing average heights in more than 200 countries from the Non-Communicable Diseases Risk Factor Collaboration shows Australians among the tallest nations – on average – in the world. It describes itself as “a network of health scientists around the world that provides rigorous and timely data on major risk factors for non-communicable diseases for all of the world’s countries”. It cites 28 major studies in Australia as the source of material to come to its conclusion on average heights here. 

Professor Tim Green, principal nutritionist in the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute’s Women and Kids Theme, says improved nutrition including in pregnant women is a major factor in children getting taller – the downside is excess energy intake could also be driving obesity.

Read the full story in The Sunday Mail here.

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