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Average height of adults in India declining at alarming rate: Study

The height of Indians is not increasing. A study titled, ‘Trends of adult height in India from 1998 to 2015: Evidence from the National Family and Health Survey’ cites this alarming statistic.

The average height of adult men and women in India decreased from 2005-06 to 2015-16 after increasing from 1998-99. Women from the poorest sections and tribal women suffered the steepest declines.

The trend in India appears to be in opposition to a global trend as several studies have shown that average heights of adults are rising around the globe. According to a report by the authors of this study, ‘In the context of an overall increase in average heights worldwide, the decline in the average height of adults in India is alarming and demands an urgent enquiry. The argument for different standards of height for the Indian population as different genetic groups needs further scrutiny.’

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The study also confirms that non-genetic factors are also playing a role. These include lifestyle, nutrition, socio-economic factors, and others. According to the authors, they have studied various height trends of adults throughout India, and the results are a clear indication that the average height of women and men in the age group of 15-25 years is declining. The average height of women has decreased by nearly 0.42 cm. In this age group, the average height of Indian men has decreased significantly by 1.10 cm.


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