What Is the Biggest Shoe Size in the World?

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The Guinness Book of World Records keeps track of information such as the oldest living person and the person with the largest feet. While the average foot size for men is between a nine and a 12 with the median at roughly 10.5, the record for the world’s largest shoe size is much larger than that. Read on to learn about the world’s largest shoe size and the difficulties people face when they have unusually large feet.

Largest Shoe Size: 21st Century

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The current living record holder for the world’s largest shoe size is Jeison Orlando Rodríguez Hernández of Venezuela. His feet measure 40.55 cm (1.33 feet) and 40.47 cm (1.32 feet). What that equates to in the United States is a men’s size 26. Most shoe manufacturers only go up to a US size 13 or 14 (or their country’s equivalent), so Hernández must have them specially fitted and made for him.

Largest Shoe Size Ever

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The man who holds the record for the largest shoe size ever was Robert Wadlow, who wore a US size 37AA shoe. Both of his feet measured 18.5 inches. Wadlow also held the record for tallest man in the world, which he still holds today. Wadlow was 8 feet 11 inches tall at the time of his death at age 22. He had a condition known as hyperplasia of the pituitary gland, which resulted in gigantism. He was likely still growing at the time of his death.

What Are Average Shoe Sizes?

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For both men and women, there’s a correlation between height and shoe size. Shorter people generally tend to have smaller shoe sizes, while taller people have larger ones. The man who holds the record for the tallest man in the world in the 21st century, Sultan Kösen, has a shoe size just slightly smaller than Jeison Orlando Rodríguez Hernández. The average shoe size for men is between 9 and 12, with the average being 10.5, while the national average for women is between 7.5 and 8. Shorter women tend to have shoe sizes between 5 and 8.5, while women of average height have shoe sizes between 6.5 to 10. Tall women have shoe sizes between 9 and 15. Overall, the shoe industry has reported that shoe sizes have increased over the decades

Health Problems Associated with Large Feet

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There are various health problems associated with abnormally large feet, especially when paired with exceptional height, as in Robert Wadlow’s case. He suffered from gigantism, which occurs when the pituitary gland creates too much human growth hormone. Had he lived in more modern times, he may have lived a longer life. Healthline reports that up to 80 percent of cases of gigantism are corrected with surgery of the pituitary gland.

Another health problem that someone with abnormally large feet or hands may suffer from is acromegaly. This is another pituitary gland issue that results in too much growth hormone being produced. Unlike gigantism, which can be diagnosed in younger children, acromegaly occurs after puberty and often in middle age. This condition affects the arms, legs and face. Patients may all of a sudden notice what seems like a "growth spurt." Regularly worn rings may feel tight all of a sudden, or the bone structure in the face may look different. Doctors can administer a blood test to check for the condition, and it can be treated with surgery, medication, or radiation.