Why the Dutch Are So Freaking Tall
Tl;dr: the Dutch are tall because they live in a flat European country and buy their kids bikes that are too big for them, which stimulates growth.
Everyone knows the Dutch are tall, much taller than everyone else. When I moved to the Netherlands in 2015, I quickly understood my chances to date a Dutch girl were close to zero, so instead of wasting time with feelings and relationships, I set up to investigate the roots of their giant size.
Here’s what I found out (this article is not intended to be taken seriously).
Is It Really About Living Conditions?
While science says that people become taller as their living conditions improve, I believe this only partly explains why Dutch people are tall. Indeed, looking at the average size of people, we find out that the top 10 countries in the world are the Netherlands, with an average size of 3.5 meters (kidding), followed by Latvia, Estonia, Denmark, Czech Republic, Serbia, Belgium (what?), Slovakia, Bosnia, and Iceland.
These results question the “high living conditions” hypothesis since differences between Bosnia and Denmark conditions of living are big.
We must therefore dig further and see what characteristics these countries share that could stimulate people to grow tall.
The Role of Nutrition
In terms of shared characteristics, the top 10 countries does not differ so much from the top 25 countries.
Firstly, all countries are all located in Europe (except for Australia and New-Zealand, but let’s face it, they are European descendants), which has been the richest region in the world for the last 5 centuries, if not longer.
As a result, famine in Europe has not been lived for a very long time (the last time Europe was close to dying of hunger was during the winter of 1946), and people have had access to the highest food quality worldwide due to fertile lands and overall good regulations.
However, should food quality account for as much as we may think, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece…should have also been part of the top 10, which they are not.
In fact, they are not even part of the top 25.
To me, it’s quite clear: southern diets are traditionally richer in fruits and vegetables, while northern diets are richer in animal products.
Having dived into the world of nutrition for quite some time now, the first idea that jumped to mind while looking at the list of tall countries was the fact that all of them are big consumers of dairy products.
Dairy has been consumed for about 13 000 years, almost only in Europe. Europeans are almost the only ones that can digest dairy properly because these thousands of years of consumption have made them able to digest lactose better than people whose ancestral diet did not include dairy.
Cow milk is not made for humans after all. It’s made for rapidly developing calves who need nutrient-dense food to reach their adult size after two years only.
As such, I seriously believe that heavy dairy consumption is a strong factor in humans’ physical development because it is just so full of nutrients.
The role of the environment
Next up is the role of the environment. The top 10 countries are all flat countries, which leaves plenty of space for people to develop and grow.
While this sounds ridiculous at first, it makes absolute sense to me why the human body would grow taller on flat land than it would in the mountains.
On flat land, space feels bigger and humans only compete with trees for the title of biggest living organism around. This encourages the body to take full advantage of the available space and to grow as much as it can, its two feet firmly anchored on the ground.
The case is different for hilly countries.
People living in the mountain experience less space than people living on flat land. Always dominated by a higher peak, they have to bend forward or backward to climb or go down a hogback.
The body does not develop too much and remain small and agile to spare energy spent on climbing up and down.
Why Dutch People Specifically?
The Dutch tick all characteristics outlined above that make people tall. They live in a flat country located in Europe and consume a lot of dairy.
Furthermore, I do believe that one last characteristic has been influencing Dutch people’s size for centuries now: greed.
Let’s face it, Dutch people are the greediest around here. Hard discounts franchises such as Action or Kruidvat had Dutch founders and CEOs.
Dutch people will barter with you for 2 hours to spare 3 cents on a purchase and always seek the lowest prices available, which makes them the object of many jokes in Belgium.
My country being slightly more expensive than the Netherlands, Dutch coming on holidays make sure to buy all their groceries home to not spend more money after they arrived in Belgium.
They sleep in the cheapest accommodations they can find (camping or RVs) and don’t buy any souvenirs.
I don’t think I need to continue any further. The Dutch are cheap and greedy and this why they succeed, both as a country and as individuals.
But how does this relate to their size?
The Netherlands is a flat country and like all flat countries, people move around with bicycles, which suits Dutch people because operating bicycles is free, apart from the price of the bike.
The purpose for Dutch couples that have children is, therefore, to buy as few bikes as possible for their kids to save as much money as they can.
As such, should you walk around Den Haag on a weekday at 15h30, you’ll see myriads of 10-year-old Dutch kids pedaling on adult bicycles, their foot barely reaching the lowest point of the pedal.
Such as basketball players reaching for the hoop, Dutch teenage bodies must grow as tall as fast as possible to properly reach the pedals of their bikes.
And since everyone pedals in the Netherlands, everyone is tall.
The Bottom Line
Growing tall is hardly about genetics. I remember asking out on a date a second-generation immigrant girl, half Black-half Arab, and she was 182 cm.
Because she had lived her whole life in a flat country, eating dairy and riding a bicycle too big for her.
I was much shorter than her because I was lactose intolerant as a kid, grew up in the hilly part of Belgium, and never had to ride a bicycle too big for me.
I think this fact proves rather well my theory.
If you want tall kids, you now know what to do.