New research suggests that increases in Swedes’ height once thought to have levelled off are actually continuing to grow. A study of some 4,000 Swedes found that both men and women born in 1990 were taller than those born just 16 years earlier.
Swedish men born in 1990 grew to an average height of 181.7 centimetres, a full centimetre taller than men born in 1974. Swedish women are also getting taller, with those born in 1990 reaching an average height of 168.3 centimetres. That’s a six millimeter gain over women from 1974.
Halland-based pediatrician Anton Holmgren, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on human height, said the new figures show that historical growth increases are still continuing.
“Over the past 150 years, people in Sweden have grown unbelievably taller. There has been speculation that this development had come to an end but this study shows that while it may have slowed a bit, the trend continues,” Holmgren said.
The pediatrician said that Swedes are growing taller because of improved living standards.
Not only had researchers thought that Swedes were done growing taller, some figures had even pointed to a shrinking population. A study of Swedes born in 1956 revealed that men were on average 180.1cm tall while the average Swedish woman grew to a height of 166.1cm. As of 2016, those numbers stood at 177.9cm and 164.6cm, respectively.
Similarly, findings published in the medical journal eLife in 2016 showed that Swedish men and women were once the world’s tallest but are now in 15th and 17th place respectively.
While the new research suggests that Swedes may continue to grow taller, they still have a way to go to catch up to their taller neighbours. A 2017 report in The Telegraph revealed that Denmark and Norway were the world’s third and fourth tallest countries, with Danish men standing tall at an average height of 182.6cm (and growing) and Norwegians reaching 1.824cm.