Is it true that the Dutch are the tallest people in the world?


Stepping into the bustling streets of the Netherlands, one cannot help but be struck by the remarkable stature of its people. The Dutch stand out as some of the tallest individuals globally, a fact that has piqued the curiosity of researchers worldwide. Are they truly the tallest population on the planet? This question has spurred extensive investigation, unveiling captivating insights into the factors shaping their extraordinary height.

Recent studies unequivocally confirm that the Dutch boast the highest average height worldwide. With Dutch men towering at an impressive 182.8 centimeters (6 feet) on average and Dutch women reaching an average height of 169.3 centimeters (5 feet 6.7 inches), it’s evident that unique forces are at play in the Netherlands. But what exactly contributes to this exceptional phenomenon?

Unraveling the mystery behind the Netherlands’ towering populace requires delving into a myriad of factors. From unparalleled living standards and a stellar healthcare system to the subtle influences of natural selection, there’s a captivating narrative behind every inch of Dutch height.

Join us as we embark on a journey to uncover the secrets behind the Netherlands’ lofty distinction and gain a deeper understanding of how and why Dutch men and women have ascended to claim their position as the world’s tallest people.

The Stature of the Dutch Population

Three pivotal scientific studies have conclusively established the Dutch as the world’s tallest citizens, while also revealing the astounding heights reached by the people of the Netherlands.

The first of these studies, conducted in 2016, conducted an extensive examination of height trends spanning a century, from 1914 to 2014. It encompassed data from a staggering 18.6 million individuals across 200 countries.

A more recent study, initiated in 2020 and titled “Height and Body Mass Index Trends of Adolescents and School Children from 1985 to 2019 in 200 Countries and Territories in a Pooled Analysis of 2181 Population-Based Studies Including 65 Million Participants,” was published in The Lancet in 2020.

In 2021, a Dutch-specific study was carried out, involving a substantial cohort of 719,000 participants. This research focused on assessing the average height of Dutch men and women aged 19 years, spanning the period from 1980 to 2020. Unlike international height studies, this Dutch investigation honed in on modeling the average height trends solely within the Netherlands.

Intriguingly, the Dutch’s extraordinary height remains a topic of fascination and curiosity, making it an area ripe for exploration and understanding.


One of the key distinctions in this research, setting it apart from the other three studies, lies in the timing of the assessment of the average height growth of the Dutch population. The Lancet study, spanning from 1985 to 2019, and the Netherlands study from 1980 to 2020, both focused on evaluating the average height of the Dutch population. In contrast, the initial study examined a broader historical period, extending from 1914 to 2014.

The table below showcases the average height data for the Dutch population across these three studies.

Remarkably, Dutch males claimed the top position in international comparisons in both 2016 and 2018, while Dutch females secured the second spot in the 2016 study but rose to first place in the 2020 study. In both instances, the body mass index (BMI) of the Dutch population for both genders fell within the average range, indicating precise patterns of height growth.

In 2021, a nationwide study conducted by the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) involved a staggering 719,000 participants to investigate changes in the average height within the Netherlands. The Dutch study unveiled a notable disparity in average height compared to the Lancet study, thereby strengthening its credibility.

Intriguingly, the Dutch study also disclosed that Dutch males born in 2001 were approximately 1 cm shorter than those born in 1980. A similar trend emerged among Dutch females born between 1980 and 2001, with an average height shortfall of 1.4 cm compared to those born before 1980. This suggests that the previously observed remarkable height increase in the Dutch population has reached a plateau.

While the cause behind this deceleration in Dutch growth remains enigmatic, Dutch scientists are exploring several hypotheses. One possibility is the rising number of immigrants from smaller-statured population groups, along with the children born to them in the Netherlands. However, other factors may wield a more substantial influence on this phenomenon, including shifts in Dutch dietary habits, resulting in reduced intake of essential growth nutrients despite increased calorie consumption.

Irrespective of the findings from these studies, it appears that the Dutch population is poised to maintain its high global ranking in the foreseeable future.

What is the average height of Dutch men?

What is the average height of Dutch men, including those who are the tallest in the world?

There are three separate studies, each with slightly different results, on the average height of Dutch men. However, I believe that the 2021 study conducted by the Netherlands National Statistics Office (CBS) which includes data up to 2020, is the most accurate measurement of the average height of men living in the Netherlands.

The average height of Dutch men is 182.8 cm (6’0″), making Dutch men the tallest men on the planet. The average height of Dutch men has decreased by 1.0 cm (0.4 inches) since 2000, due to changes in diets that are less nutritious and higher in calories.

However, despite the recent decline in average height, Dutch men on average are still the tallest men globally. Surprisingly, there is not much difference in height between Dutch men. Over 40% of men living in the Netherlands are shorter than the standard height by 5 cm.

There are some geographic differences in the height of men living in the Netherlands. For example, the tallest people found in the Netherlands live in the north of the country. On average, men in the north of the Netherlands are about 3 cm (1.2″) taller than men elsewhere. To date, the reason behind this is still not fully understood.

What is the average height of women in the Netherlands?

The most accurate assessment of the average height of women in the Netherlands comes from a study conducted in the Netherlands and published in 2021, which contains data up to 2020.

Dutch women are among the tallest women in the world, with an average height of 169.3 cm (5’6.7″). However, the average height of Dutch women has decreased by 1.4 cm (0.55″) since 2000. The decrease is due to changes in diet with less nutrients and more calories.

Like men, there are not many differences in height for Dutch women. However, there are differences in the height of Dutch women based on the region they reside in the Netherlands. For example, the tallest women live in the northern part of the country and are three cm (1.2″) taller on average than women living in the southern part of the Netherlands. The cause of this difference is unknown.

When did the height of Dutch people start growing rapidly?

The development of the average height of Dutch people in the past century has been truly remarkable.

According to a study in 2016, Dutch men were the tallest in the world in 2014, ranking 12th in 1914. In the past century, Dutch men have grown on average 20 cm (7.9″).

However, the height of men in the United States has only increased by 6 cm during this period. The similar growth rate is also evident in the Netherlands and other European countries. The growth rate of men has slowed down in some Western countries, while Dutch men continue to grow taller.

Most of this explosive growth for Dutch people occurred from 1950 to 2000. The increase in height has slowed down since 2000. It seems that Dutch people have reached a natural limit to their height.

The increase in height of women throughout the Netherlands is more impressive than the increase in height of men. Dutch women were the second tallest in the world in 2014, only 38 cm taller than a century ago.

Dutch women have grown on average, taller by 20 cm (7.9″) during this time. Similar to men, Dutch women continue to increase in height, while the average height in other Western countries has decreased earlier.


Why are Dutch people so tall?

Scientists have identified three main reasons that explain why Dutch people are so tall.

Dutch people are taller due to a combination of high living standards, excellent healthcare services, and natural selection. High living standards have allowed Dutch people to afford high-quality meals, and excellent healthcare services have helped to prevent many diseases in children. Dutch women and men also have a higher proportion of male offspring, which further increases the average height in the Netherlands.

Discuss the three main factors driving the astonishing growth in depth in the Netherlands.

High standard of living

The people of all social classes throughout the Netherlands have witnessed a significant increase in their standard of living over the past two centuries. The earlier expansion of the Netherlands in the late 19th century was related to the development of a democratic system in the Netherlands, leading to a significant reduction in the gap between the rich and the poor.

The Netherlands was already wealthy, but its wealth was primarily concentrated among the upper class. As democracy increased and social mobility began to spread across all classes of Dutch society, the quality of life for everyone improved significantly. This trend began in the mid-19th century and became a catalyst for the health and happiness of people throughout Dutch social life.

Furthermore, the discovery and exploration of vast natural gas resources in the Netherlands in 1960 generated millions of Euros annually, enabling the Netherlands to build a welfare state. Creating this welfare system significantly improved the standard of living.

For example, Dutch parents receive 1000-2000 EUR per child annually to provide better food and nutrition for their children. A family of three children is given 3000-4000 EUR for premium food items.

The increased standard of living in the past century has enabled the Dutch to have better food choices, and their children who consume full and nutritious meals have increased height. However, changes in dietary habits since 2000, with fewer calories and more nutrients, have contributed to a decrease in the standard height of the Dutch.

The growth of the Dutch is often due to their consumption of dairy products. Indeed, animal protein in milk and meat can be beneficial for child development.

But dairy products are not the only reason for the growth of the Dutch. The Dutch ate many dairy products before they began to increase their consumption on a larger scale. Other factors may be responsible for the development of the Dutch throughout the past century

Excellent Healthcare System

The revenue gained from exploring natural resources has been used to build an outstanding national healthcare program in the Netherlands. The Dutch healthcare system is one of the reasons why the Dutch are taller than people from other countries as it has prevented many diseases in children that can hinder their development. Moreover, newborns in the Netherlands are thoroughly checked and immediately treated if any illness occurs.

Because newborns receive top-notch healthcare throughout the Netherlands, they grow significantly healthier. For instance, vaccines against deadly diseases such as polio are completely free, and many illnesses in children have been eradicated in the Netherlands.

Natural Selection

Improved living standards and excellent health are not the only reasons for the increase in the Dutch population. Other Western countries have made similar advances in living standards and healthcare, but their populations have not grown as quickly as the Netherlands.

The trend of increasing height has slowed considerably in some European countries, in contrast to the Netherlands. Thus, other factors may play a role in the development of children living in the Netherlands.

Height is a characteristic that can be inherited across generations, meaning that parents who are taller have a higher likelihood of having taller children than average parents. It seems that in the Netherlands, taller men are more attractive to women than shorter men.

With tall women and tall men on average, the Netherlands has more children than other countries. This outstanding characteristic has led to a significant increase in the height of the Dutch population.