The only way is up: Men's average height 'up 11cm since 1870s'
Men have grown at the rate of approximately a millimetre a year and a centimetre a decade
Is this proof that austerity really does lead to growth - of one kind at least?
The average height of European men has grown by 11cms since the latter part of the 19th Century, according to research carried out at the University of Essex.
According to the findings, which were published in the Oxford Economics Papers journal and analysed data from the early 1870s to 1980, men have grown at the rate of approximately a millimetre a year and a centimetre a decade, despite the period in question spanning two World Wars and the Depression of the 1930s.
Timothy Hatton, the economics professor who led the study, said: "Increases in human stature are a key indicator of improvements in the average health of populations."
The study, which shows the average height of a European male growing from 167 cm to 178 cm in a little over a 100 years – suggests an environment of improving health and decreasing disease "is the single most important factor driving the increase in height", said Hatton.
The results appear initially surprising given the tough conditions experienced in the early 19th Century by the 15 Western European countries sampled for the survey.
Though poverty, food rationing and the hardship of war might have been expected to limit growth, researchers said there was in fact a “distinct quickening” in the rate of men’s growth during the period.
The conditions of increased austerity, led to families having fewer children in the period, which in turn was found to be linked to an increase in average height.
The study, which said there was too little historical data to analyse height fluctuation in women, concentrated its study on men of an average age of 21, and sourced its date from military records and modern population surveys from 15 countries including Britain and Ireland, the Scandinavian countries, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
Researchers said: “[the results are] striking the period largely predates the wide implementation of major breakthroughs in modern medicine and national health services.”
One possible reason posited for surge in height, aside from the decline in infant mortality, was the strong downward trend in fertility at the time. Smaller family sizes, the researchers said, have previously been found to be linked to increasing height.
Additional reporting by Reuters
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason
Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama
- 1 Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
- 2 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 3 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 4 Scottish independence: Andy Murray backs Yes campaign in eleventh hour decision
- 5 Have you heard about the film Singapore has banned its people from watching? Well, you have now
Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
Scottish independence referendum live: Latest news as Scotland votes Yes or No
Scottish independence: Final opinion polls show undecided voters could swing result either way
Scottish independence: Almost half of No voters have felt 'personally threatened' by the Yes campaign
Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The Job We are currently recruit...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: Randstad Education can provide you wit...
Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is currently ...