The primary reason for this is attributable to increases in nutritional and medicinal qualities. Malnutrition was a major problem during the middle ages into the late 1800s. People in western countries relied on a few staple commodity crops like potatoes and wheat. These crops provided the calories but not the nutritional value needed to sustain normal growth throughout childhood. Children also performed a lot of physical labor, thereby stunting growth development. Pollution and disease also played a factor in determining height.
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