Genetics of human height

Econ Hum Biol. 2009 Dec;7(3):294-306. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2009.09.005. Epub 2009 Sep 17.


Height is correlated with risk to certain diseases and various socio-economic outcomes. As an easy to observe and measure trait, it has been a classic paradigm in the emergence of fundamental concepts regarding inheritance and genetics. Resemblances in height between relatives suggest that 80% of height variation is under genetic control with the rest controlled by environmental factors such as diet and disease exposure. Nearly a century ago it was recognised that many genes were likely to be involved but it is only with recent advances in technology that it has become possible to comprehensively search the human genome for DNA variants that control height. About 50 genes and regions of the genome have been associated with height to date. These begin to explain the biological basis of height, its links to disease and aid our understanding of the evolution of human height. The genes discovered so far have a very small individual effect and hundreds, maybe thousands, more of even smaller effects are still lost in the genome. Despite a successful start to height gene mapping, there remain considerable theoretical, technological, and statistical hurdles to be overcome in order to unravel its full genetic basis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution
  • Body Height / genetics*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Diet
  • Environment
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Racial Groups
  • Sexual Behavior