«If Joe is taller than Jack, it's probably because his parents are taller. But if the average Norwegian is taller than the average Nigerian it's because Norwegians live healthier lives. That's why the United Nations now uses height to monitor nutrition in developing countries.[...]
Humans are an ever-improving species, the old evolution charts tell us; each generation is smarter, sleeker, and taller than the last. Yet in Northern Europe over the past twelve hundred years human stature has followed a U-shaped curve: from a high around 800 A.D., to a low sometime in the seventeenth century, and back up again. Charlemagne was well over six feet; the soldiers who stormed the Bastille a millennium later averaged five feet and weighed a hundred pounds. "They didn't look like Errol Flynn and Alan Hale," the economist Robert Fogel told me. "They looked like thirteen-year-old girls."
[...]One evening last winter, Komlos and I were walking by the U.S.O. office at the Philadelphia airport, when he stopped to watch a batch of Coast Guard recruits who were shipping out to Cape May, New Jersey. "Look at that," he said. "Hardly any of them is six feet tall." Komlos had to catch an 8 p.m. red-eye to Munich, but he couldn't resist taking this group's measure. Standing at a discreet distance, he slowly sized up each man as if with a pair of calipers. "Amazing," he said. "The average German soldier is a hundred and seventy-nine centimetres -- about five foot ten and a half. These guys are more like me."»
National poverty and medical neglect is a hoot!!