Why are the Dutch so tall? Four possible answers

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.

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. 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 helping. 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 — ooh la laa

This is where things get steamy: one of the answers to the question of why the Dutch are so tall might be sex!

According to a LifeLines study, tall men accompanied by a woman of average height have the most children. For example, the men with the most number of kids were seven centimetres above the average height. To put it statistically, they had 0.24 more children on average than the least fertile men, who were about 14 cm below the average height.

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. 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 | Say what? The Dutch are getting shorter!

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 increase in height.

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

4. Cheese

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

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. 🧀

Visiting Gouda, Alkmaar, or Edam Cheese markets might draw a better picture where you can take your pick from rows and rows of cheese all ready to be sliced into goodness.

If we need to eat cheese to grow, we are happy to! Image: Depositphotos

How’s that related? The national cuisine of the Netherlands is mainly about dairy products, potatoes, seafood, and meat. Many households serve fresh vegetables alongside chicken, or beef, all year round.

Their breakfasts sometimes consist of yoghurt with muesli or one to two boterhammen made with cheese and/or sliced meat and a glass of milk as a favoured drink next to their breakfast or lunch well into adulthood.

As some habits die hard, the same concept applies to boterhammen as the most preferred lunch in the country.

Eating a dairy-rich diet undoubtedly helps when it comes to growth and supplies children with the energy that their bodies need to reach such towering proportions. But, is this the answer to our question as to why the Dutch are so tall? Scientists believe yes, but not entirely.

That’s all, folks!

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!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in February 2018, and was fully updated in January 2023 for your reading pleasure.

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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  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.

  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.


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