Why are the Dutch so tall? Four possible answers

Here are some theories 🙋‍♀️

We don’t know if you’ve realised yet, but let us break the news: people from the Netherlands are tall. In fact, they’re the tallest on the planet — but why? There are four potential reasons.

Studies show that the average height for Dutch men is 1.86 cm (over 6′) whereas an average American is 1.76 cm (5’9”).

So why are the Dutch so tall, you ask? Well, here are four possible answers to why the Dutch are so vertically blessed.

1. Good ol’ natural selection

To kick start our possible reasons why the Dutchies are so tall, we have natural selection. The idea behind it is simple: with time, there were more and more Dutch with tall genes.

READ MORE | World record of most tall people in one location was broken by the Netherlands

Scientists believe that natural selection, alongside good environmental conditions, perhaps helps.

To say it with the words of Gert Stulp, a specialist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine:

“Height is very heritable — taller parents tend to have somewhat taller children than shorter parents. Because taller individuals would have more offspring in the next generation who would be taller, the average height in that generation would a bit taller on average than the preceding generation, if all else is equal.”

2. Sex — and what it leads to

This is where things get steamy: one of the answers to the question of why the Dutch are so tall might be sex! Specifically, how “fruitful” it is.

According to a LifeLines study, tall men accompanied by a woman of average height have the most children.

For example, the men with the highest number of kids were seven centimetres above the average height.

To put it statistically, tall men had 0.24 more children on average than the least fertile men, who were about 14 cm below the average height.

Dutch-person-holding-a-condom-to-have-sex-in-the-Netherlands-and-what-this-has-to-do-with-Dutch-being-so-tall
Sex is good for another reason! Image: Pixabay

LifeLines got to this conclusion by looking into the lives and health of more than 94,500 people who lived in the northern parts of the Netherlands between 1935 and 1967.

So apart from being quite satisfied with their sexy time, the Dutch are good at making babies as well! 😉

3. They get enough snooze time

We all love a good ol’ snooze time. Our hectic lives and busy schedules are making it impossible to get a good night’s rest sometimes, but nothing beats a good sleep.

That’s why some people think that this might be the reason why the Dutch are so freaking tall.

We can’t talk much about catching a snooze as an adult, but we have some reasons to believe that there is a strong connection between getting enough sleep as a child and growth.

READ MORE | Dutch DNA: are the Dutch actually Dutch?

How? Well, in order to grow, your body needs to get growth hormones. 

This is a hormone synthesised naturally by the body and it helps your body with “building” tissues such as muscle, skin, tendon, and bone.

This means the result is better muscle tone, faster healing, and an — ding, ding, ding! — increased height.

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #82: Grow really, really tall

This is why sleep is so important when it comes to growing because our body produces growth hormones when we are asleep. The more deep sleep we get = the taller we grow (between the ages of 19-27). 📏

Perhaps part of the secret to the Dutch’s height is simply that they are very good snoozers! This does make sense when you consider that the Netherlands has a great work-life balance.

4. All that Goud-damn Cheese

Finally, one of the biggest reasons why Dutchies are as tall as they are is the cheese! It’s no news that the Dutch love their share of dairy products.

Photo-of-woman-weighing-boerenkaas-in-traditional-Dutch-cheese-shop-
If we need to eat cheese to grow, we are happy to! Image: Depositphotos

We’re talking cheese shops on every corner, stalls and stalls of cheese being sold at the city market twice a week, and don’t get us started with the huge dairy section in every supermarket just for cheese. 🧀

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #5: Eat cheese every day for lunch 

Visiting Gouda, Alkmaar, or Edam Cheese markets will quickly help you understand why it’s such a popular food staple for the Dutch. But, is this the answer to our question as to why the Dutch are so tall? Scientists believe yes, but not entirely.

Of course, it isn’t as simple as saying if you eat cheese, you grow tall. However, part of the secret to Dutch people’s height is their overall nutritious diet — which has certainly been helped by all that cheese.

READ MORE | Eat your cheese: How the Dutch became ridiculously tall

Cheese includes valuable nutrients for growth, such as protein and calcium. With plenty of cheese in supply, the Dutch have been nourished with the tools their bodies need in order to reach great heights.


We don’t know the exact answer to the mysteries of the Dutch height, but we can always have our take on it — after all, it’s clear that they are doing something right to earn the tallest nation title.

Got your own theory on why the Dutch are so tall? Leave it in the comments below!

Feature Image:Pixabay
Ceren Spuyman
Ceren Spuyman
Born and raised in Istanbul, Ceren moved when she decided to follow her own Dutchie. Being restless by nature, she is now busy with everything Dutch by majoring in Dutch Studies at Leiden University while living in Delft. Her hobbies are petting as many cats as possible.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t recall the Dutch being all that tall before the war. To nurish the children milk was brought into the classroom everyday at every school. I belive this is what contributed to the Dutch being tall today.

    • The same was done in British schools. Yuk I remember semi warm milk being forced on us! And the Brits are only averagely tall…..

  2. Interesting guesses! Am doing a research on food behaviour, the first research point is helpful. The sex part is interesting 😀 I believe in that part as well. Time to do a lot 🙂

  3. We just have to constantly watch over our dykes to make sure the water is not rising too high!??????

  4. I am Dutch and don’t eat cheese or drink milk.
    Never had much slept more then 5 hours a night.

    I think however it has something to do with the Netherlands being below sea level and the way our blood cells have adapt to that it can be a coincidence. And not only are our men tall so are our women.
    And as mentioned before vegetables is something we all grew up with green veg. Like kale, endive and broccoli. Always with potatoes. This will most definitely be a factor. As they are rich in iron and that makes you grow.

  5. I’m Dutch and I’m tall. My brothers were too. Dad and Mom were tall. But I believe the biggest factor affecting my growth was vegetables. Every meal had them, and we ate a lot. It has been said that the Dutch are thrifty and vegetables are cheap, but I couldn’t imagine a meal without them.
    We moved to Canada and one thing I noticed here is that most people don’t eat the vegetables in a restaurant meal.

  6. Lol average male height in the Netherlands is 181 cm for men and 183 cm for young men according to the Dutch government, not 186 cm.

  7. Too many growth hormones in their pork, beef and milk products. This article seems to praise tallness, but more cells means more risk of cancer. Small is beautiful.

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