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What’s The Average Female Height In America?

Plus, The Distribution Of How Women Measure Up Around The World

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As someone who has always been the shortest of all of my friends and family members, I have often paid attention to what seems to be the average height for women (for the record, I fall well below the average female height!).

But, what is the average height for women in the United States? What is the average woman’s height worldwide? What factors affect the average height of women vs men? 

According to the CDC, the average height for American women over the age of 20 is 161.7 cm, or 5 feet, 3.7 inches (nearly 5’4”).

In this guide, we will discuss the average female height in America and worldwide and the factors that affect the average height for women.

Time to jump in!

Four women smiling at the camera.

How Is Average Female Height Measured?

Most scientists who evaluate changes in average height statistics and factors that influence the average height of men and women credit improved nutrition during growth for the increase in average male height in the United States and worldwide over the past 100 years. 

The same holds true for women: the average female height in America and worldwide has increased over the last hundred years, largely due to better nutrition in infancy, childhood, and adolescence.

National health agencies typically collect average heights by country.

In general, these average height statistics are collected and tracked for data collection by measuring the child’s standing height beginning at age two and then measured to the nearest 0.1 cm using a height-measuring device known as a digital stadiometer.

A digital stadiometer device is what measures height at a doctor’s office.

To measure height with the stadiometer height device, you stand with your feet flat and up against the wall or on the scale. 

A vertical ruler goes up alongside your body or behind your spine with a sliding horizontal stick adjusted to come just across the crown of your head so that a right angle is made between the upright ruler and the horizontal sliding ruler. 

Then, your height is read from the ruler and recorded to the nearest 0.1 cm.

A woman being measured.

What Is the Average Female Height In America?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average height for American women over the age of 20 is 161.7 cm, or 5 feet, 3.7 inches (nearly 5’4”).1Fryar, C. (2018). The Narrative of Ann Pratt: Life-Writing, Genre and Bureaucracy in a Postemancipation Scandal. History Workshop Journal85(122), 265–279. https://doi.org/10.1093/hwj/dby001

‌However, this was the average height of American females as of 2016.

Although eight years later doesn’t seem all that significant, it should be noted that the average height for females has increased over time.

For example, data from the 1960s shows that the average height for American women was only 5 feet and 3 inches, which is a full inch shorter over a span of about 50 years.2Ogden, C., Fryar, C., Carroll, M., & Flegal, K. (n.d.). Mean Body Weight, Height, and Body Mass Index, United States 1960-2002. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ad/ad347.pdf

However, the average height of women in America has actually decreased slightly from 2000 to 2016 from 162.1 cm (63.8 in) in 2000 to 161.7 cm (63.7 in) in 2016. 

A woman being measured.

Of note, the average weight for American women has also changed even more drastically.

In the 1960s, the average female weight in America was about 140 pounds, and today, it is 168 pounds, which is 28 pounds heavier despite only 1 inch of increased average height.

This speaks to our expanding waistlines and the rise in the obesity epidemic and is represented by the increase in the average BMI for women in the US.

Note that BMI refers to body mass index. It is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared.

BMI = weight (kg) / [height (m)]2 For example, if you weigh 70 kg and are 165 cm tall, 70 / (1.65)2 = 25.7.

With pounds and inches, the formula for calculating BMI is weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds and are 65 inches tall, [160 / (65)2] x 703 = 26.6.

You can calculate your BMI here.

If we look at the current average female height in America of 64 inches and the average weight for American women of 168 pounds:

BMI = [168 / (64)2] x 703 = 28.8.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BMI is categorized as follows:3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 3). About Adult BMI . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/index.html

BMIWeight Status
Below 18.5Underweight
18.5 – 24.9Healthy Weight
25.0 – 29.9Overweight
30.0 and AboveObesity

Therefore, the average female in the US is overweight and approaching obese based on the average height and weight.

Women from around the world.

What Is the Average Height for Women In the World?

So, how does the average American female height stack up to the average height for women worldwide?

According to World Data, which has average height for women by country, the average height of women in the US ranks 51st out of 130 countries.4WorldData. (2019). Average height of men and women worldwide. Worlddata.info. https://www.worlddata.info/average-bodyheight.php

‌Using the World Data average height for adult women by country, the average height for women worldwide is 163 centimeters or 5 feet 3.5 inches.

The data for average female height by country converted into inches and centimeters is displayed in the table below:

CountryAverage Height (cm)Average Height (inches)
Netherlands17066.93
Montenegro17066.93
Denmark16966.54
Estonia16866.14
Iceland16866.14
Czechia16866.14
Serbia16866.14
Latvia16866.14
Bosnia and Herzegovina16765.75
Slovenia16765.75
Slovakia16765.75
Croatia16765.75
Sweden16765.75
Lithuania16765.75
Dominica16765.75
Cook Islands16765.75
Niue16765.75
American Samoa16765.75
Norway16665.35
Ukraine16665.35
Finland16665.35
Germany16665.35
Bermuda16665.35
Austria16665.35
Belarus16665.35
French Polynesia16665.35
Tokelau16665.35
Tonga16665.35
Poland16564.96
Greece16564.96
Australia16564.96
Canada16564.96
Antigua and Barbuda16564.96
Andorra16564.96
Luxembourg16564.96
Grenada16564.96
New Zealand16564.96
Saint Lucia16564.96
Belgium16464.57
Switzerland16464.57
Ireland16464.57
France16464.57
United Kingdom16464.57
Romania16464.57
Jamaica16464.57
Russia16464.57
Bulgaria16464.57
Puerto Rico16364.17
Lebanon16364.17
United States16364.17
Georgia16364.17
South Korea16364.17
China16364.17
Bahamas16364.17
Samoa16364.17
Tuvalu16364.17
Hungary16263.78
Spain16263.78
Israel16263.78
Libya16263.78
Brazil16263.78
Algeria16263.78
Albania16263.78
Chad16263.78
Turkey16163.39
Morocco16163.39
Iran16163.39
Kazakhstan16163.39
Argentina16163.39
Italy16163.39
Palestine16163.39
Portugal16163.39
North Korea16163.39
Singapore16163.39
Kiribati16163.39
Hong Kong16062.99
Costa Rica16062.99
United Arab Emirates16062.99
Cuba16062.99
Taiwan16062.99
Egypt16062.99
Venezuela16062.99
Qatar16062.99
Haiti16062.99
Cameroon16062.99
Sudan16062.99
Mongolia16062.99
Zimbabwe16062.99
Jordan15962.60
Chile15962.60
Thailand15962.60
Palau15962.60
Somalia15962.60
Kenya15962.60
Ghana15962.60
Micronesia15962.60
Iraq15862.20
Japan15862.20
Colombia15862.20
Saudi Arabia15862.20
Nigeria15862.20
Nauru15862.20
South Africa15862.20
Vietnam15862.20
Eritrea15761.81
Mexico15761.81
Malaysia15761.81
Ethiopia15761.81
El Salvador15661.42
Congo (Dem. Republic)15661.42
Bolivia15561.02
Afghanistan15561.02
Sri Lanka15561.02
Ecuador15561.02
Burundi15561.02
Brunei15561.02
India15561.02
Maldives15460.63
Pakistan15460.63
Myanmar15460.63
Indonesia15460.63
Cambodia15460.63
Philippines15460.63
Yemen15460.63
Madagascar15360.24
Laos15360.24
Bangladesh15259.84
Nepal15259.84
East Timor15259.84
Guatemala15159.45
A woman being measured.

What Are the Main Factors That Influence Height?

Several factors influence the height of an adult. Here are some of the top factors that impact height:

#1: Sex

Across the world, the average height for males is taller than the average height for females.

#2: Genetics

Your adult height is largely determined by your genetics, with studies suggesting that up to 60 to 81% of your height is attributable to your genetics, with up to 700 genes seeming to have some influence on your height.5Schousboe, K., Visscher, P. M., Erbas, B., Kyvik, K. O., Hopper, J. L., Henriksen, J. E., Heitmann, B. L., & Sørensen, T. I. A. (2003). Twin study of genetic and environmental influences on adult body size, shape, and composition. International Journal of Obesity28(1), 39–48. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0802524

A woman being measured.

#3: Age

Maximal skeletal height for men is typically reached in the early 20s, after which the growth plates close, and no additional height will be achieved.

In fact, as most people know, you lose height as you age due to compression of the intervertebral discs in the spine and loss of bone height in the vertebrae due to thinning of bones (osteoporosis or bone mineral density loss).

Some of this loss of height can be attenuated by keeping your core muscles and postural muscles strong, keeping your bones healthy with enough calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and other micronutrients, and performing strength training workouts and cardio exercises consistently throughout adulthood and into your senior years.

#4: Nutrition

Another factor affecting your height is your nutritional intake during childhood and puberty. 

For example, malnutrition, inadequate caloric intake, low protein intake, and insufficient calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and magnesium anywhere from infancy to the end of puberty can compromise your weight gain and potentially stunt your growth.

If you are interested in the average male height in America, check out this next article:

Four women posing for a picture.

References

Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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