Whole world looks up to Latvian women

Latvia's women are the tallest in the world, a scientific study 100 years in the making has discovered.

The research conducted by the UK's Imperial College found that Dutch men and Latvian women were the world's tallest groups.

In fact the Dutch and Latvians (and we should mention our Estonian neighbors) feature in the top four for both men and women in the remarkable study which began in 1914 and has published latest results from 2014.

Dutch men are the tallest on the planet, with an average height of 182.5cm. Latvian women are the tallest on the planet, with an average height of 170cm.

Indeed Latvia's quite literal ascent to prominence is all the more remarkable as data shows that in 1914 Latvian men were ranked 13th tallest in the world and Latvian women were 28th tallest.

The corresponding figures for 2014 are 4th and 1st.

Men from East Timor were the smallest in the world in 2014, with an average height of 160cm. Women from Guatemala were the smallest in 2014 with an average height of 149cm

The research also revealed once-tall USA had declined from third tallest men and fourth tallest women in the world in 1914 to 37th and 42nd place respectively in 2014. Overall, the top ten tallest nations in 2014 for men and women were dominated by European countries, and featured no English-speaking nation.

"How tall we grow is strongly influenced by nutrition and environmental factors, although an individual's genetic factors may also play a role. Children and adolescents who are better nourished and live in better environments tend to be taller, and height may even be influenced by a mother's health and nutrition during pregnancy. It has lifelong consequences for health and even education and earnings. Some research suggests people who are taller tend to live longer, gain a better education and even earn more. However, being tall may carry some health risks," a release about the research said.

Mary De Silva, Head of Population, Environment and Health at the Wellcome Trust, who co-funded the study, said: "This is a unique analysis that shows the real power of combining a hundred years of population data sources that span the globe. The most striking finding is that despite the huge increases in height seen in some countries, there is still a considerable gap between the shortest and tallest countries. More research is needed to understand the reasons for this gap and to help devise ways of reducing the disparities in health that still persist globally."

The lesson for all little boys and girls who want to grow up to be big and strong is that you should eat up your grey peas, sprats and black bread then drink up your kefirs.

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