One minute they’re babies; the next they’re towering over their parents. Boys seem to shoot up so fast and their pants get shorter every year without fail, but when do boys stop growing in height?
Unlike girls who generally stop growing around age 14-15, it is hard to pinpoint exactly when boys stop growing in height. That being said, their growth curve tends to flatten from ages 18 to 20. In some cases of “early bloomers” or “late bloomers”, boys’ height can stop increasing anywhere from 16 to their early 20s.
To better understand the mechanisms behind boys’ height growth, let’s take a look at the various factors affecting their vertical development, the causes of stunted growth as well as what to do to ensure the best height growth for boys.
At what age does a boy’s height stop growing?
Most boys stop growing taller, according to the National Health Service (NHS), by the time they reach 16 years of age. Some boys may continue to get muscular and gain another inch or so until they reach their full adult height by the age of 18 .
Boys experience a huge growth spurt during puberty, starting as early as age 10 for some and as late as 14 for others. Although the age when puberty begins determines when their growth starts and stops, it does not necessarily affect how tall boys will eventually be.
During this period, their height on average increases by 3 inches per year (7.6 centimeters). But each individual is different, and so is their growth rate. A universal observation is that boys who mature later tend to grow at a faster rate as if to make up for the lost time. It is also during puberty that boys achieve up to 92 percent of their final adult height.
Another point worth mentioning is that despite gaining almost the same average number of inches in height throughout their pubertal years, boys whose growth is stunted before puberty hits never make up for any deficits prior to that period.
What causes stunted growth in boys?
Stunting is defined as impaired growth and development in children. It can have a variety of causes, ranging from genetic to environmental factors.
The growth of both boys and girls can be stunted in the event of a family history of delayed or stunted growth. Growth hormone deficiency can also stunt growth. Growth hormone plays the main role in body growth and development under normal circumstances. However, boys with a complete or even partial deficiency of this hormone cannot sustain a healthy growth rate.
Certain conditions such as Turner syndrome, Down syndrome, and Hypothyroidism—a condition where kids have an underactive thyroid gland—are other causes of stunted growth in boys and girls. Children with any illnesses that affect the heart, kidneys, digestive tract, or lungs are also at risk.
Often overlooked as a cause of stunted growth, poor nutrition is in fact the biggest contributor to growth failure around the world. Lack of proper nutrition might prevent a boy from growing as tall as he can. By contrast, a well-balanced diet can provide the body with essential nutrients to prevent or correct stunted growth.
What’s the median height for boys?
The average height of American men from 20 years old is 5 feet 9 inches or 69.1 inches (175.4 centimeters).
The earliest start of puberty for boys is 10 years of age, at which time most are under 54.5 inches tall (138.5 centimeters).
Below is the median height for boys from 8 to 18 years of age .
The median height for boys
(inches and centimeters)
|8||50.4 inches |
56. 4 inches
Height by age for boys
Factors affecting the height growth of boys
Height is largely determined by one’s DNA. Scientists have identified over 700 different genes that dictate how tall boys would be as adults. Among these genes, some influence the secretion of growth hormone whereas others affect the growth plates. That is why some genetic conditions like Marfan syndrome and Down syndrome interfere with a person’s height growth.
Other biological mechanisms such as hormones may have a say in boys’ physical development, although further studies are needed to understand their exact roles.
Aside from genetic and biological factors, the height growth of boys is also under the influence of environmental factors, including whether the mother smokes during pregnancy, meets her nutritional requirements, or is exposed to hazardous substances.
Nutrition continues to play a crucial role in healthy development after birth. Boys with a nutritious, balanced diet are more likely to be taller as adults than those with a poor diet. Proper sleep and an active lifestyle are important height determinants that can easily be leveraged for boys to reach their maximum height potential.
Socioeconomic factors such as healthcare, income, living conditions, and education are also thought to influence the body’s vertical growth. Some believe that ethnicity determines a person’s height, but studies have shown significant improvements in the height of the next generations of immigrant families moving to a place with easier access to healthy food, better healthcare, and higher living standards.
This suggests that non-genetic factors profoundly affect boys’ height growth and ultimately their adult height.
How to ensure the best growth for boys
None of us can control the genetic and biological determinants of height, but we can totally take advantage of non-genetic factors to maximize height growth.
Have a nutritious diet
Children and teenagers are recommended to eat a balanced, varied diet with lots of veggies and fruits. This way they can absorb all the vitamins and minerals needed to get taller fast. Calcium and protein are also indispensable to height growth and bone health. Some foods rich in these two nutrients are milk, yogurt, cheese, seafood, poultry, meat, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
Get enough sleep
Sleep facilitates growth and development in kids and adolescents. Why? Because the body promotes growth hormone at the highest levels during deep sleep. It is inarguably the easiest way to thrive and grow optimally.
Regular involvement in physical activity not only promotes physical development but also enhances your overall health. Taking part in sports helps your bones grow stronger, denser, and healthier while stimulating growth hormone production. Playing outdoors is especially helpful for height gain as it allows the body to get enough vitamin D from sun exposure.
Avoid growth-stunting factors
Growth-stunting factors are more common than you thought. They are the junk food and soda that kids and teens just love. Smoking and drinking stunt growth as well, and should be avoided at all costs during growing years. Some people consider coffee as a growth inhibitor, but this assertion lacks sound evidence. The most probable explanation for this belief is that coffee may cause a lack of sleep or even insomnia, which negatively affects height increase.
Getting good nutrition is not always so simple. Certain food allergies, malabsorption, and picky eating habits can make it extremely hard to ensure a well-balanced diet. Taking supplements might be an evolutionary way to absorb sufficient nutrients without having to consume all kinds of food. There are various types of supplements, including those specializing in boosting height growth. If you want to learn more about height growth supplements, click here.