What Is the Average Height for a Man?

And How Men Have Measured Up Through History

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Average height is something that all men have pondered at one time or another, with the word "average" suggesting that you either fall below or above what a man "should be." As with skin tones and eye color, height is something we can't change but a factor we often obsess about, particularly when it comes to how our children are developing.

Looking at the broad average across the United States, the National Center for Health Statistics has reported that the average height for an adult male in 69.3 inches (176.1 cm), or roughly 5 feet 9 inches.

This data was compiled as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted from 2007 to 2010.

A Historic Look at Average Male Height

Measurements of body mass index, weight, height, and even head circumference have been collected in the U.S. since the late 1950s. Not surprisingly, men have been getting increasing taller in that short span of a few decades.

One of the earliest reports stated that "men in the general civilian population average 68.2 inches in height," a little more than an inch shorter than what would be expected today.

Previous to this time, we have gotten historic glimpses which suggest that the average height has been creeping up steadily in the past 400 years:

  • Pilgrim men are believed to have averaged around 66 inches in height (1620)
  • Civil War soldiers reportedly averaged 67.7 inches (1863)
  • United States soldiers averaged 67.5 inches (1917)
  • United States Army recruits averaged 68.1 inches (1943)

    Does this mean that men will keep growing taller as time passes? Probably not. Despite the evidence of growth, the archeological examination of skeletons from as far back as the Mesolithic period showed that a man's height fell roughly in the range of 168 cm, or roughly 5 feet 5 inches.

    That translates to a mere four inches over 10,000 years.

    As far as recent gains in height, better health and nutrition have played a major part in this growth spurt. Today, we have the means to prevent illness and promote health during a child's formative years. We can also delay degeneration as a person gets older, preventing the deterioration of bone and muscle that can lead to a loss in height.

    Most experts, as a result, believe that our height potential may have pretty much maxed out.

    Average Height Compared to the Rest of the World

    When compared to men in other parts of the world, the American male sits pretty much in the middle of the national averages.

    In some countries, like the Netherlands and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the average height is just over 6 feet tall. In parts of Asia — particularly Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines) — the average falls around 5 feet 4 inches or less.

    Meanwhile, the tallest men overall appear to come from the Nilotic people of the Sudan, where the average height has been pegged at 6 feet 3 inches.

    Average Height of Boys

    While genetics play a major role in determining how tall a boy eventually be, it's no guarantee. A tall father can end up having a shorter son or vice versa. Moreover, some kids thrive better than others during their developmental years.

    In the end, there is no set pattern and few things we can do to contribute a boy's height.

    While predicting whether a boy's height is not always easy, there are a few general benchmarks you can follow:

    • Boys two to nine years of age will average 34 inches at the onset and reach an average of 50 inches by the end of his ninth year.
    • Boys 10 to 14 will experience growth from 55 inches to 65 inches during this period.
    • Boys 15 to 18 will grow from 68 inches to 70 inches and continue to grow incrementally for a few years after

    A Word From Verywell

    Falling beneath these benchmarks doesn't mean that your son is too short, needs growth hormone, or is not developing as he should.

    Simply put, it shouldn't be something you stress about.

    That doesn't mean you shouldn't track your son's development by using either a growth chart or a percentile calculator. Both can provide healthy guidance in conjunction with routine medical visits.

    If seriously concerned that your son is not reaching the developmental benchmarks he should speak with your pediatrician. A parent's instinct is something you should never ignore.

    Sources:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Anthropometric Reference Data for Children and Adults: United States, 2007-2010." Vital and Health Statistics. 2012; 11(252):1-48.

    Hathaway, M. "Trends in Heights and Weights." Yearbook of Agriculture. 1959:1-5.

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