Height of Kenya women stagnates despite ‘growing’ prosperity

By Gatonye Gathura

The Kenyan woman has not grown any taller in the last 50 years unlike the Ethiopian neigbour while Ugandans have become shorter.

Higher adult height is associated with better living and higher health standards in the general population.

While genetics plays an important role in human growth, height can be limited by poor childhood nutrition and illness.

The stagnation of female height in Kenya may be confusing with many reports showing the economy to have been on a growth trajectory in recent years.

In 2015 Kenya was reclassified from a least developed to a lower-middle income country by the UN indicating its economy and living indicators were on an upward swing.

But a recent study covering 1,122,845 women aged 25-49 years from 59 countries lists Kenya among 26 nations where female height has not changed in the last 50 years.

A study by the American universities of Harvard, Stanford, California and that of Toronto Canada shows women height in the studied countries to have increased in 26, stagnated in 26 and declined in seven.

Rwanda experienced the greatest loss in height by 1.4 cm, while Colombia experienced the greatest gain in height at 2.6 cm.

Benin experienced the largest relative expansion in the distribution of height while Lesotho and Uganda experienced the greatest relative contraction in female height.

Height of the Kenyan women the report shows has stagnated at 158.9 cm (about 5ft 2 in) the Ugandan is at 158.8 cm, Rwandese at 156.6 cm and the Ghanaian 159.5 cm.

The tallest women are found in Latvia, Netherlands and Belgium at around 170 cm.

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