Top 10 Countries With The Shortest Average Heights

Genetics aside, in many of these countries childhood malnutrition ultimately leads to short stature into adulthood.

Shortest average height, by our definition, means the average adult height of a country’s populace including both genders, and taken from large scale studies and surveys representative of national populations as a whole. In these countries listed, it is common to see an adult height that is shorter than the standard adult heights relative to global norms. Short stature has not been given a precise standard but, in developed countries, a man shorter than 5 feet, 4 inches and a woman shorter than 4 feet, 11 inches, are considered “short”. However, in some European countries, where being tall is the norm, men shorter than 5 feet, 7 inches, and women shorter than 5 feet, 2 inches, are considered to be short in height. Below average height in children and young adults have their causes most often originating from malnutrition. In adults, causes can often be linked to medical conditions. Although shortness in height could also be linked with a person’s genes or human growth hormone deficiency, cultural and environmental factors also play a major role in any given child’s growth into adulthood.

10. Nigeria (5 feet, 3.75 inches)

Nigeria is also trying its best to improve its population’s average height of 5 feet, 3.75 inches when including both genders. The Sahel region is worst hit by malnutrition, which accounts for the stunting of Nigerian children’s growth. Figures show that about 1.1 million children are undernourished in the country, much of which is characterized by an arid environment. The UNICEF continues to monitor the situation in Nigeria, but sectarian violence, especially along the northern borders, has affected their efforts. Environmental factors like a lack of clean water and unsanitary conditions does not help either. Studies show that people taken to a safe and clean place, and fed the same nutrient-rich diet as their fellow natives, ultimately reach the natives’ physical health and growth. That is a testament to the importance of hygiene and sanitation to good health and growth when all else is equal.

9. Iraq (5 feet, 3.25 inches)

Iraq has struggled in improving its population’s average height of 5 feet, 3.25 inches when including both genders. A Norwegian research study showed that, since the war broke out with the US in 2003, malnutrition has increased to a high 7%, comparable to many sub-Saharan African countries. What was once a thriving nation has been reduced to a Third World country, with 400,000 children malnourished and thusly increasingly vulnerable to diseases. About 6.5 million Iraqis today are on food rations, and many of these rations are in turn exchanged for similarly much needed medicine. With ongoing civil war and domestic conflict, cultural norms have been all but neglected entirely, and so too have the normal environments that foster kinship and family ties. Children now weigh 11 pounds below norms, with many being bed-ridden with all kinds of intestinal maladies due to unsanitary living conditions.

8. Malaysia (5 feet, 2.75 inches)

Malaysia has seen the link between malnutrition and the average height of its population, which currently stands at 5 feet, 2.75 inches when including both genders. Statistics show that 12.5% of children in Malaysia are underweight, while 400,000 are stunted in height. These figures partly account for the stunted average height of Malaysian people in adulthood. Environmental factors, such as poor sanitation, diseases, a lack of clean water, proper housing, and food shortages, all contribute to the problem. Those hardest hit are the many families living well below the poverty line.

7. Vietnam (5 feet, 2.5 inches)

Vietnam has for several decades now been struggling to improve its population’s average height of 5 feet, 2.5 inches when including both genders. Although the country has been making progress in that regard, malnutrition is still rampant. Demography is one of the factors that makes the problem difficult to eradicate ther, especially in isolated mountain communities. ChildFund in Vietnam has made small, yet significant, strides in helping by providing milk to these communities’ children. Internal strife has certainly taken a toll on its population’s health as well.

6. India (5 feet, 2.25 inches)

India has been taking steps in addressing issues that could improve its population’s low average height, which is but 5 feet, 2.25 inches when including both genders. In India, cultural and environmental issues often affect its children’s health, and in turn these can lead to malnutrition issues. The National Family Health study showed that 43.5% of Indian children are underweight, while 47.9% are stunted in stature. Despite the figures, many children survive in the country due to better health systems than in many other developing countries. Malnourished mothers are also commonly seen passing these conditions on to their predisposed children.

5. Peru (5 feet, 2 inches)

Peru also sees short statures in South America, with its adult population reaching 5 feet, 2 inches in average height when including both genders. In Peru, malnourished children most often come from the jungle and highland communities. Famine, disease, and cultural issues add to the problem. Poverty, food insecurity, and low agricultural productivity also affects the Peruvian malnutrition issue. The results of these often lead to stunting in growth, negative educational achievement, and low career productivity. Health services and school feeding programs are non-accessible to many, due to poverty and demography.

4. Sri Lanka (5 feet, 1.5 inches)

Sri Lanka has an adult population with an average height of 5 feet, 1.5 inches when including both genders. Adult height is mostly determined by good nutrition in childhood, and a recent nutritional study showed that children’s nutritional health has not changed much for the better over the past 10 years. Other factors, such as childhood diseases, also contribute to the problem. Cultural and environmental factors also might be a cause of malnutrition, like poor nutrition due to traditional food sources and cuisine that lacks the right nutrients. Obesity can also result from the wrong food choices, all the while not supplying enough nutrients despite excess calories. The children of the rich in the country also have a malnutrition rate of 11.9%, and mothers themselves are often the deciding factor where a child’s nutritional needs are concerned.

3. Philippines (5 feet, 1.5 inches)

The Philippines has severe malnutrition problems that has affected its general population’s adult height, which is currently averaging only 5 feet, 1.5 inches when including both genders. The Department of Education recently released figures that show 1.8 million Filipino children are malnourished, and this could lead to abnormalities such as stunting and school drop-outs. Studies show that the problem is especially prevalent in the event early age pregnancies, where the mother is not fully physically equipped for childbirth and childcare. The result is that the likelihood of this situation being repeated in the next generation is high. Although feeding programs have been launched, funds are not adequate enough.

2. Indonesia (4 feet, 11.75 inches)

Indonesia’s population includes some of Asia’s shortest people, which stands at an average height of 4 feet, 11.75 inches when including both genders. This trend has become generational, as many children in Indonesia continue to be malnourished. Stunting is seen in many developing countries and reflected in the “normal” heights of their respective people, but research shows that children’s growth is largely linked to good nutrition. Educational achievement and career success also depend on good food, and that, in turn, leads to a country’s economic growth. The UNICEF is currently supporting a food program in Indonesia that would address the issue.

1. Bolivia (4 feet, 11.5 inches)

Bolivia has some of the shortest people in stature in the world, with its population’s height averaging 4 feet, 11.5 inches tall when including both genders. The country is one of the poorest in South America, and one in three children under the age of five years are affected with chronic malnutrition, often leading to below average heights. Genetics and hormonal factors are also seen as culprits as well, with Bolivian girls being more affected than boys. Statistics on births from the City Hall of La Paz, Bolivia showed that 42% of babies had short height at birth as well. Canada, Belgium, and France have stepped in and created a food program to help alleviate the malnutrition in Bolivia.

Which Country Has the Shortest People?

With an average height of 4 feet, 11 inches, Bolivia has the shortest population in the world.

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