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If you’ve ever been to western Europe, there’s no doubt your puzzled as to why are people from the Netherlands so tall?. What do they feed these Dutch people or put in their water to make them so tall. It can feel like you are on another planet when roaming the streets of the Netherlands. When a 6 foot guy, normally finds himself quite tall, is considered just above average when compared to a Dutch Women, it certainly does take you back a step.
If you have not yet had the privilege of visiting Holland you can probably imagine a colorful country with long, beautiful tradition. Their culture is rich, and their cuisine is flavorful and nurturing. There are at least a couple of sweets and pastries with exotic names originating in the Netherlands that are among your favorites, and not to mention the cheeses. We imagine the Dutch as vibrant, happy people of friendly character. And we’re right. But did you know they are also freakishly tall?
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Why Are Dutch People Tall
That’s right! Dutch people have gained in height an average of 8 in (20 cm) on a national level, which sparked a discussion among scientists. Many became eager to know how and why the average height in the Netherlands increased.
What was even more fascinating was that the younger generations advanced in height fairly quickly compared to the rest of the world. The Netherlands has ultimately reached a point where the public spaces, as well as clothe sizing, needed to be adjusted for larger sizes.
But, is there an exaggeration in this urban myth, could it be simply a marketing trick? Or are they really that much taller than you and I? To find out the answers behind these questions, let’s look into the figures that explain how tall the Dutch actually are, and then discuss some of the possible causes for that.
How Tall Are The People in the Netherlands?
People in the Netherlands average the highest across the world. This doesn’t mean that every Dutch person is tall, or that they have the tallest person in the world. But it does mean that based on the population (17 million and counting), the average height is greater in comparison.
Dutch People VS Americans
The average Dutch male is over 6″ tall (1.86cm), as opposed to average American of 5’9″ (1.76cm). In some countries, being 6 foot tall is considered quite tall and for the people of the Netherlands, this is average height.
Dutch women are also taller than the world average, with 170.7cm according to Wiki. The averaging figures aren’t the only astonishing factor in assessing the size of the folks in the Netherlands. What’s even more inspiring to think about is that every new generation in the Netherlands shows they are further progressing in height.
Can you imagine how tall Dutch people will be in 50, 100, 2000 years from now?. But why do they seem to be growing in height the more time progresses?.
People From The Netherlands Are Only Getting Taller
While the people of Netherlands are adapting their architecture and commercial spaces to cater to a fast-growing number of tall citizens, with raising the doorways and leaving the extra sitting space in the aeroplanes, the scientists have focused their efforts to find out why Dutch are becoming taller and taller.
The Scientific Proof
As it goes with serious scientific research, over 90,000 participants who were born in the Netherlands to both Dutch parents were examined to try and determine the cause. From this research led by Gert Stulp, an indication to how much taller the Dutch people are growing year by year.
In the last 150 years, the average height of an adult from the Netherlands has increased by a whopping 7.87 inches (20cm). This is not a small number either. When you consider the fact that 2 centuries ago, the Dutch people were not known to be tall people. Which just leads us down an even more confusing path. Is this just another step in human evolution, or is there really something in the water.
Possible Reasons Why The Dutch Are Tall
Looking for the clues as to why people in the Netherlands are so tall, the scientists have brought up a couple of assumptions. Here are some of them:
We know that nutrition is vital to growth, and we also know that it has a long-term impact on fetal and infant development. Nutrition is named one of the crucial factors to impact the childs growth, and we can argue that a country as advanced as the Netherlands doesn’t lack in quality organic foods.
Moreover, traditional kitchens in the Netherlands are based on meat and dairy, which is a growth-promoting factor. However, scientists argue that there are also a plethora of high-standard, high-nutrition parts of the world where the local population doesn’t advance as much in terms of height.
Nutrition remains a factor least connected to this unique tendency, but not yet to be excluded. A nutrient-dense diet rich in protein does promote fetal and child growth, which reflects on the height of an adult.So protein and nutrition in general may just be a boosting attribute to combination of external factors.
Healthy, Stimulative Environment
Everything about a living environment affects human growth. From the quality of air and water to healthcare and living conditions. Needless to say, the Dutch don’t lack in terms of quality environment. But the previous argument still stands, meaning that the favorable environment also can’t explain the increase in the population’s average height.
There are a number of countries in the world, and surrounding countries to the Netherlands that don’t share this tendency. There is, however, one factor that scientists discovered might have affected the Dutch to grow taller with each generation.
The healthy environment in the Netherlands that supports healthy lifestyle surely has beneficial impacts on the people, promoting healthy growth in infants. While surroundings don’t make a significant difference in height, different studies that focused on deprived surroundings discovered that the lack of certain elements like sufficient light and fresh air can be detrimental to child development. With Dutch kids enjoying the benefits of an eco-friendly environment, it’s not hard to assume their growth is receiving a boost as well.
Genetics and Natural Selection
Natural selection is, according to many, the main reason behind the increasing average height of the Dutch. Scientists have noticed that the increase began roughly 150 years ago. There was a tendency noticed in that period of time that taller women began giving birth more often then shorter women.
The most fertile women in the Netherlands averaged roughly seven (7) centimeters above the national average. With the tendency for taller women to partner with taller men, it became obvious how their offspring were born with genetic tendencies for greater heights. On a side-note, the fact that taller women were capable of producing an averagely larger number of children may have something to do with genetics as well. This means that the there was a moment of natural selection over 100 years into the history of the Netherlands that went in favor of tall people.
The Exact Reason Dutch People Are Tall Is Unclear
While the scientists have managed to point out a clue that explains the increase in the average height in the Netherlands, the exact answer is yet to be revealed. Perhaps it will never be known as to why people from certain countries are taller than other parts of the world.
Scientists argue that, as with most things related to human development, multiple factors play a significant role.
Ultimately, it is the genetics combined with natural selection that scientists assume has the most to do with the Dutch average height. It is a most likely answer to “Why people in the Netherlands are so tall?”, but with a twist.
While natural selection can explain the increase in the population’s average height, it is still happening rather fast and why is it just within these borders?. This is why scientists assume that the effect of multiple factors at the same time is the true answer. People in the Netherlands live in growth-stimulating conditions and are genetically predisposed to be taller than the world’s average height.
As time goes on, more data will be collected and research will be made. In another 150 years perhaps the Dutch people have grown yet another 20 cm in height or could it be reversed and now they are on par for average height. The human body is so complex it’s anyone’s guess if you ask me. But it sure will be interesting to see the results 150-200 years from now.