Americans no longer tallest people in world

LINCOLN, Neb. (U-WIRE) – It’s official: Americans are no longer the tallest people on Earth. That honor now goes to Europeans, including the Dutch, Norwegians, Danish and Germans.

According to the Annals of Human Biology, Europe has overtaken the United States in the height department, a distinction the Americans had for the last 200 years.

In the United States, the current average height of an adult man is 5 feet, 9 inches, and for an adult woman, it is 5 feet, 3 inches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the Netherlands, though, men average 6 feet tall while the average woman is 5 feet, 7 inches, according to the Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.

Though there are many reasons for the disparity in height, the Annals of Human Biology suggest the shift in growth trends might have something to do with the amount of junk food Americans consume in comparison to Europeans.

Jennifer Snyder, a marketing specialist at the University Health Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, agreed that the eating habits of Americans could have some effect on growth patterns.

“We (Americans) eat a lot more preservatives and additives (than Europeans), and the food is processed differently here,” Snyder said.

Another reason why Americans are on average shorter than Europeans could be the result of more pollution in the air, Snyder said.

Although Americans as a whole are getting shorter, some are looking for ways to combat shortness.

In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of synthetic growth hormone for youth with idiopathic short stature, or shortness for no apparent medical reason.

The treatment consists of an injection every day for many years, but the procedure is expensive, not usually covered by insurance companies and sometimes yields disappointing results – the average increase in height is about two inches.

While being extremely short can be a hindrance in everyday life, not everyone who uses growth hormones does so out of necessity. Many patients who opt to take a growth hormone choose to undergo the therapy for cosmetic reasons.

“For some people, taking it is more of a self-esteem issue,” Snyder said.