EVOLUTION: Better diet means Britons will reach new heights

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Britons will grow at least 13cm (5.5 inches) taller over the next few generations, thanks to better nutrition, an expert in ageing has predicted. Delivering a lecture in London, Professor Robert Fogel, of the University of Chicago, said humans had not yet reached their optimum height, body size, health or life expectancy.

He predicted that the average height of the nation will increase from 177cm to 190cm. Babies were being better nourished in the womb, and fewer women were smoking while pregnant, he said.

Indeed, Professor Fogel said growth could be even higher than he had forecast. "We really do not know what the maximum height for humans is yet," he said. "But the signs are that we still have a long way to go."

The average British male in 1790 weighed 134lb - 20 per cent less than he does today. The professor said: "As we have gained control over our environment, body size has increased over 50 per cent and life expectancy has risen by around 100 per cent."