Why Are Dutch People So Tall? Facts You Didn't Know

December 3, 2020

The Netherlands is called the land of giants. It’s because the people here are some of the tallest in the whole world. The height of an average Dutch male is around 1.82 meters (5.97 feet) and a female 1.68 meters (5.51 feet) which is a lot when you compare it with the average human height of other countries. Many people wondered why the Dutch people are so tall.

There are four reasons why the Dutch are so tall. Higher living standards, high-quality diet, they sleep more and have a natural selection process. These helped them from being one of the shortest people in Europe to become the tallest people on earth.

In this article, I am going to discuss in detail the reasons why Dutch are so tall. So, keep reading till the end to learn more.

Why Are the Dutch People So Tall?

Humans all over the world have seen an increase in our average height in recent times. Today, the average height of a human is around 4 inches (10 centimeters) more than the average height of people who lived in the mid-19th centuries.

Countries like the United Kingdom, Japan, the United States, etc. have witnessed even more increases in the average height of their citizens. But, among these nations, the Netherlands stands out the most.

The Netherlands has witnessed a staggering increase of 20 centimeters in average human height compared to the Dutchmen in the mid-19th century. The average height of adult Dutch women is around 1.68 meters (5.51 feet) and 1.82 meters (5.97 feet) for adult Dutch males. This is why the Netherlands is often referred to as the land of giants.

Several reasons why the Dutch people are so tall are discussed down below.

Raising Income and Higher Living Standard

As mentioned before, many nations have witnessed steady growth in their citizens' average height over the past decades. Just in 150 years, the Dutch people have made tremendous progress in wealth, medical treatment, and hygiene and made a dramatic improvement to their living standards. A group of researchers at Michigan State University have found a direct link between the higher living standard and the dramatic increase in the height of Dutchmen.

This group studied the Netherlands’ military height records starting from 1820 to 2010. And from their study, they have found that even a few decades ago, the Dutch people were the smallest in Europe. Their average height was around 1.65 meters in the early nineteenth century. But today, they are the tallest in the world.

The researchers found that the sharp increase in height of the Dutch people was triggered by the change in the political system of the Netherlands in the mid-19th century. Before the establishment of the liberal democracy in the Netherlands, this country was a colonial empire.

During the colonial period, most of the wealth of the Netherlands was in the hands of high society. But after the establishment of liberal democracy, the wealth started to diffuse among all the groups in Dutch society.

As a result, the income of the average people of Dutch society got a boost. They got access to better medical care, medicine, better products, and nutritious food. Their average lifespan increased and the mortality rate dropped down. Thus, their living standards also improved. This directly contributed to the sharp increase in the average height among the Dutch people.

And this explanation is based on pretty straightforward logic. With more money, people can buy more nutritious food, afford better health care and medical treatment. As a result, they can provide better living standards for themselves and their family so that their children can grow taller and healthier.

But the higher living standard of the Dutch people is not the only reason why they are so tall. Many countries made significant improvements in the past few decades similar to the Netherlands. But these countries did not witness such a sharp increase in height of their citizens as the Netherlands. The other reasons are also discussed briefly here.

Kids measuring how tall they are:

Why Are Dutch People So Tall? This Is The Reason Why - Pic #1

The Influence of a High-Quality Diet

This is another reason why the Dutch people are so tall. They consume a lot of dairy products. And you must've heard that calcium makes the bones grow stronger and bigger. And scientists confirmed that there is a direct correlation between height and dairy product consumption.

The usual diet of an average Dutchman is rich in dairy products. Milk is a favorite drink for Dutch people of all ages. They usually like to have a glass of milk whether they are having breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

They also love cheese. In fact, there are cheese shops everywhere in the Netherlands. Cheese is being sold at city market stalls twice a week and almost every supermarket in the Netherlands has huge dairy sections. Some supermarkets even have a separate section just for cheese.

Dutch people also consume seafood, potatoes, and meat. For an average Dutch household, fresh vegetables along with meat (chicken or beef) and potatoes are served all year round. Vitamins along with the calories and calcium provide their children with all the energy they need to grow tall and healthy.

Longer Sleeping Time

Europeans are in general very hardworking. They lead a very busy life and as a result, they sleep less than they should. According to researchers, the Dutch people, especially the young ones sleep the most among all European nations. And this is one of the reasons why they are so tall.

Sleep is very important for the growth of the human body. There is a direct relationship between sleep and growing tall. Growth hormone is responsible for humans growing taller especially during their childhood and teenage years. And the growth hormone is produced while the human body is resting. And what better way to rest than sleep.

This means when a child or a teenager sleeps, their body will naturally produce growth hormone. And the more they sleep, the more hormones will be produced and the more they are likely going to be taller.

The Process of Natural Selection

The main reason why the Dutch are so tall is simply natural selection. Natural selection is the process in which only those who adapted to the environment better tend to survive and reproduce. The process of natural selection played a pivotal part in the sharp increase in height of the Dutch people.

A team of researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine studied the health and lives of more than ninety-four thousand Dutchmen who lived in the northern part of the Netherlands from 1935 to 1967. From this study, the researchers found that the families that have more children are males and females who are taller than the average height in their generation.

These researchers have found that the most fertile men in their research were around seven centimeters taller than the average height at their time. They also had more children on average. At the same time, the least fertile men were around fourteen centimeters shorter than the median height of their contemporaries.

Height is a genetic trait. That means the offspring of taller parents are usually taller than the offspring of parents who are normal or short in height. And researchers had already observed that taller individuals tend to be more fertile, which means they are likely to have more children. As a result, the next generation is likely going to be taller than their predecessors. This is how nature works.

With time, there were simply more people in the Netherlands carrying tall genes. Natural selection along with the reasons mentioned above have helped the Dutch people from being the shortest people in Europe to become the tallest people on earth.


Now you know why Dutch are so tall and even are the tallest people in the world. Even though a few decades ago, they were the shortest people in Europe. Their higher living standard, world-class medical and healthcare, nutritious diet habits, longer snooze time, and most importantly their genetics have made the people of the Netherlands the tallest in the world today.

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Written by

Leo van den Berg
As a Dutchman I am extremely proud of the beautiful country in which I live. My goal is to convey my passion and love for the Netherlands to as many people as possible.

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