Are the Dutch really respectful

Body size: why are the Dutch the tallest?

Statistics don't lie and say: The Dutch are the tallest people in the world right now. But only now - 200 years ago they were even among the smallest Europeans. This development also amazes evolutionary biologists, because what exactly has promoted an enormous increase in size of around 20 centimeters in our neighbors on the North Sea in the past two centuries? Apparently big and big at least happily and successfully join each other there, my researchers now believe: Tall men and women together have more children than smaller people, calculated Gert Stulp and his colleagues from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and thus at least provide a cause though no explanation.

A trend towards higher growth has been recorded in all industrial nations in the modern age, but lasted longer for the inhabitants of the Netherlands and thus gave them a top position, the researchers write. They evaluated data from the LifeLines cohort study, which also documented the reproductive success of 94,516 Dutch people from the north of the country over decades. A correlation between the number of children and above-average size between the years 1935 and 1967 can actually be recognized. It has long been clear that higher stature is also genetically inherited; No wonder, then, that more big children then raise the national average overall, as in Holland.

The underlying causes of population growth are highly controversial. Among other things, one postulates a better diet, especially with dairy products, as well as a functioning health system and low social inequality in the population: All these factors have been preferred by the Dutch for around 150 years, for example, the inhabitants of the USA, who on average in that time were just six centimeters taller and are now being eclipsed by the Dutch.

However, the scientists warn against drawing conclusions too quickly from their still rather sparse data set. In addition to the nutritional differences already mentioned, socio-cultural backgrounds for the development would also be possible: Dutch people, for example, have their first children at an older age than Americans, probably for reasons of social norm. Because, in addition - another statistical peculiarity - smaller people often marry earlier, they also have offspring earlier and over a longer period of time. This then promotes smaller people in countries where early marriage is common, such as the USA, say the researchers - and conclude that they can really only speculate about all of this.