Everybody interested in the determinants of population average heights should read this new paper by Timothy Hatton, available here: http://www.west-info.eu/files/Research-Oxford-Journal-2013.pdf
The message remains clear: population heights are not fixed, immutable essences but reflect environmental, nutritional, and early-life health conditions. When conditions improve, heights increase. Interestingly, the heights that Hatton reports for British men in the 1870s are very similar to the average height that Deaton (AEA P&P 2008) finds for Indian men in 2005-6.
From the conclusion:
“The evidence suggests that improvements in the disease environment, as reflected in infant mortality, is the single most important factor driving the increase in height”
Here in the news: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-23896855