They are the biggest in the world… but they are getting smaller: a study conducted by the Central Statistics Office (CBS) said on Friday that the generation of Dutch born in 2001 compared to the generation born in 1980 is small.
The average measurement of a 19-year-old Dutch male today is 182.9 cm, compared to 183.9 cm for a male born in 1980. The average measurement of a 19-year-old Dutch woman is 169.3 cm, while it is 170.7 cm for those born in 1980.
Various factors, including immigration and diet, are likely behind the change in size, the study said, reversing a century and a half of rapid growth in the country.
“We have gotten bigger and bigger in the last century, but growth has stalled since the 1980s,” the study said.
“Men born in 2001 lost an average of 1 centimeter compared to the 1980 cohort, and women an average of 1.4 cm.”
But all is not lost.
“The Netherlands remains the largest country in the world,” CBS said in a statement.
The Dutch men are ahead of Montenegro who are in second place, followed by Estonia and Bosnia. CBS cited data from the Global Network of Health Scientists (NCD-RISC) to say that Dutch women are taller than those in Montenegro, Denmark and Iceland.
Smaller males are found in East Timor, while smaller females are located in Guatemala.
– ‘Bad eating habits’ –
The reasons behind this shrinkage are not entirely clear.
One factor, according to the study, is immigration, “particularly of people of non-Western descent”, who tend to be younger.
But growth is “steady” even among the Dutch, whose parents and grandparents were born in the Netherlands, she says. Men have not increased since the 1980s while women have a “downward trend”.
This may be explained by a “biological limitation”, but is probably also related to “poor eating habits and excessive energy intake during the growing season”.
The study is based on self-measurements of 719,000 Dutch people aged 19 to 60.
Although the Dutch were not always that tall.
In the early 19th century, they were smaller by European standards, the ranking did not begin to rise until the 1840s.
A century ago, the tallest men were also in the United States or Scandinavia. The Dutch didn’t finally win the title until a generation born in the late 1950s.
The reasons for the size of the douches are unclear.
A popular myth that Dutch cheese lovers are great because they consume a lot of dairy products has been debunked by scientists.
CBS said the greater prosperity as well as “natural selection in which taller men and women had more children than shorter couples” is probably the real reason.
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