NEW YORK — If you want to see a tall population of men, go to the Netherlands. Tall women? Latvia.
And in the United States, which lags behind dozens of other countries in height, the average for adults stopped increasing about 20 years ago.
That's the word from researchers who analyzed a century's worth of height data from 200 countries. Results were released Monday in the journal eLife.
National height averages are useful as an indicator of nutrition, health care, environment and general health that people have experienced from the womb through adolescence, said Majid Ezzati of Imperial College London, who led the research. Genes also influence height.
The researchers calculated average height for 18-year-olds, roughly the age when people stop growing. They drew on more than 1,400 studies that covered more than 18.6 million adults who reached that age between 1914 and 2014.
The tallest men in the new analysis were Dutch, with an average height of about 6 feet. The next nine tallest countries in order for men were Belgium, Estonia, Latvia, Denmark, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Iceland and the Czech Republic.
Latvia topped the list for women, with an average height of 5-foot-6. Rounding out the top 10 were the Netherlands, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Slovakia, Denmark, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine.
In the United States, men gained about 2 ½ inches over the century, with about 2 inches for women. The nation is now the 37th tallest for men and 42nd for women, researchers said.
The shortest female population in the study is in Guatemala, at an average of 4-foot-11. It is followed in order by the Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal, East Timor, Madagascar, Laos, the Marshall Islands, India and Indonesia.
The shortest male population is in East Timor, at an average of 5-foot-3. It is followed by Yemen, Laos, Madagascar, Malawi, Nepal, Rwanda, the Marshall Islands, the Philippines and Mauritania.