Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tall tale: world-beating Dutch are getting shorter



Tall tale: world-beating Dutch are getting shorter

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The generation of Dutch people born in 2001 is shorter than the one born in 1980, a study by the country’s statistics office revealed on Friday. AFP

Tall tale: world-beating Dutch are getting shorter

The world’s tallest country is shrinking.

The generation of Dutch people born in 2001 is shorter than the one born in 1980, a study by the country’s statistics office revealed on Friday.

Lofty Dutch 19-year-old men currently measure an average of 182.9 cm tall, and women are on average 169.3cm tall.

Factors including immigration and diet are likely to be responsible for the change in height, which reverses a century and a half of rapid growth, the study said.

“In the course of the last century we have become taller and taller, but since 1980 the growth has stopped,” it said.

“The men born in 2001 were on average 1 cm shorter than the generation from 1980, women 1.4cm on average.”

But all is not lost.

“The Netherlands is still the tallest nation in the world,” the Central Bureau for Statistics said in a statement.

Dutchmen rank first above Montenegro, Estonia and Bosnia, while the women are above Montenegro, Denmark and Iceland, it said, citing 2020 figures from the Non-Communicable Disease Risk Factor Collaboration, a global network of health scientists.

The smallest men are in East Timor while the smallest women are in Guatemala.

‘Unhealthy eating habits’

The full reasons for the Dutch comedown are not entirely clear.

One reason was immigration, “especially of people with a non-Western background”, whom the study said tend to be smaller on average.

But growth had also “stagnated” among Dutch people whose parents and grandparents were born in the Netherlands, it said.

Men had not got any taller since 1980 while there was a “downward trend” among women.

That could be because of a “biological limit” but was also likely linked to “unhealthy eating habits and excessive energy intake in the growing up phase”.

The study was based on self-measurements of 719,000 Dutch people aged 19 to 60.

The Dutch were not always so lanky.

At the start of the 19th century they were small by European standards and only started to shoot up in the 1840s.

Even a century ago the US and Scandinavia produced the tallest men, and it was not until the generation born in the late 1950s that the Dutch took the title.

The question of why the Dutch are so tall remains unclear.

A popular myth – that the cheese-loving Dutch consume a lot of dairy products – is discounted by scientists.

Increased prosperity as well as “natural selection in which taller men and women had more children than shorter couples” is likely the real reason, the statistics bureau said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to

  • Locally-trained commercial pilots to lift Cambodia’s aviation standard

    The Kingdom is boosting its civil aviation sector with the establishment of a flight school with a local airline to meet growth demands once air travel recovers At 22, First Officer Reachta Lim is the youngest commercial pilot in Cambodia. He flies with the national flag