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Is Height determined by genetics alone?


Height varies dramatically between individuals. The shortest person ever measured was just 67 meters, and the tallest person ever measured was 2.72 meters. Height is often considered unchangeable and depends upon the genetic make-up from when a person is conceived. Can environmental factor affect height or its the DNA that effects?

According to Professor Peter Visscher, an expert in genetics from Queensland University in Australia, “There is a lot of evidence that height increases over time when countries industrialize and/or get wealthier, and this change must be environmental because genetic factors don’t change over short periods of time (e.g. decades).” He also shares that “the likely specific environmental factors are abundance of food and better healthcare.”

It has been highlighted by multiple case studies how diet affects height. It has been a generally accepted fact that 80% percent of our height has been influenced by genetics. Their DNA determines the maximum potential height of a person. Environmental factors decide whether or not you reach this maximum or not. In countries where malnutrition is prevalent in children, it is challenging to predict heights from genetics alone for this reason. On the other hand, in countries with adequate nutrition, it is possible to predict height using genes to the nearest 3 cm.

There is likely a maximum physiological height that a person could reach over which the person’s heart will not be able to pump blood effectively. It has been assumed that the limit might be around 2.7m, which is the height of the tallest person ever. Over 100 years of global average height has increased steadily but plateaued around 30 years ago. Does this mean we have reached our maximum height?

Dr. Eirini Marouli, an expert in genetics and statistics from Queen Mary University in London, is reasonable to assume that height has an upper limit. Health and nutritional factors are optimal. But has also been found that recent lifestyle changes may be hindering further changes to the average height.

Height is primarily determined by genetics; environmental factors like diet play a significant role.