Why are the Dutch so tall? Four possible answers

We don’t know if you paid attention to this detail yet, but let us break the news: People from the Netherlands are tall, in fact, they are the tallest! (At least the Dutch men are — together with the Latvian women).

The average height for Dutch men is 1.86 cm (over 6’) whereas an average American is 1.76 cm (5’9”). “Why are the Dutch so tall?” you ask? Well, we’re wondering the same thing and here are four possible answers to that question.

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

Why are the Dutch so Tall?

There are a number of potential reasons why the Dutch are so vertically blessed. Let’s break them down.

1. Natural Selection

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

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

Scientists think that natural selection with good environmental conditions (such as surrounded by cheese we’d say — see Reason four for our full take on it) might help to give an idea. To say it with the words of Gert Stulp who is 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.”

Which brings us to our second reason!

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!

Sex is good for another reason! Image: sasint/Pixabay

According to a study by LifeLines, 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.

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.

READ MORE | Say what? The Dutch are getting shorter!

Say what now? There you have it: Apart from being quiet satisfied with their sexy time, they are good at making babies as well! (wink)

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.

How? Well, in order to grow, your body needs to get growth hormone. 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 hormone 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, (as suspected) one of the biggest reasons why the Dutchies are as tall as they are: Cheese! If you are looking at the screen with amazement, hear us out.

It is not news that the Dutch surely love their share of dairy products. Cheese shops every corner, stalls and stalls of cheese being sold at the city market twice a week and don’t let us start with the huge dairy section in every supermarket just for cheese. Not satisfied?

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. Delicious!

Without diving more into the world of cheese, let’s get back to the relation between cheese and how tall the Dutch are.

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 are sometimes yoghurt with muesli or 1-2 boterhammen made with cheese and/or sliced meat and milk is still a favoured drink next to their breakfast or lunch well into adulthood.

Same boterhammen also made the most preferred lunch in the country (with milk on the side). Some habits die hard.

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 “Why are the Dutch 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. It is clear that they are doing something right to earn the tallest nation title. Why are the Dutch so tall according to you? Don’t forget to share your opinion in the comments!

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

Feature Image: Free-Photos/Pixabay
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in February 2018, and was fully updated in September 2021 for your reading pleasure.

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.


  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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related posts

Latest posts

Dutch HORECA rarely reprimanded for ignoring coronavirus measures

HORECA establishments aren't complying with the coronavirus measures, and municipalities are not giving them so much as a warning for this. On September 25,...

You’re under arrest: thousands of Dutchies targeted by phishing calls

Since August, thousands of Dutchies have received suspicious phone calls in which cyber-criminals try to get their personal information, such as citizen service (BSN)...

Nee, echt?! One of the wettest natural areas in the Netherlands is drying up

Nature lovers may already be familiar with the Dutch nature reserve called the Veluwe. The 91,200-hectare area is a popular recreational area that offers...

The latest Dutch news.
In your inbox.