The Dutch are the world's tallest people - but they are shrinking

·2-min read
Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, towers over Emmanuel Macron, the 5ft 9in tall French President during a visit to Paris in August. - AFP
Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, towers over Emmanuel Macron, the 5ft 9in tall French President during a visit to Paris in August. - AFP

The Netherlands still boasts the tallest people in the world, but according to research published on Friday, the towering Dutch are shrinking.

The diminution of the famously giant populace is partly explained by the immigration of smaller people from other countries and their children being born in the Netherlands.

But mystery surrounds the reason why people with exclusively Dutch roots, which is defined as all parents and grandparents having been born in the country, are also not as tall as they used to be.

The Dutch were still getting taller on average until 1980 before growth stalled. Men born in 1930 were on average 8.3 centimeters shorter than the 1980 average.

Last year 21 per cent of Dutch young men, more than one in five, were 6ft 2ins or taller. In the 1950s, that was just three per cent. Seven per cent were 6ft 4ins or taller.

Only 12 per cent of young Dutch men were shorter than 5ft 9in last year. Nearly one in 10 girls born around 1980 grew to at least 5ft 9ins tall but that number is declining, according to the study by Statistic Netherlands.

Women born in 2001 are on average 1.4 centimeters shorter than those born in 1980, while Men are 1cm shorter.

The statistics agency surveyed 719,000 people who were born in the Netherlands for the research.

Gert Stulp, of the University of Groningen, said people were shrinking elsewhere in the world.

"In the United States, for example, growth is levelling off and women are shrinking slightly. This may be due to the fact that people are eating less well: less varied, more fatty foods. This could also play a role here in the Netherlands,” he told the NOS broadcaster.

Men from Montenegro, Estonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are almost as tall as the Dutch, who retain their title as the world’s giants. Like the Dutch, they are on average taller than 5ft 9ins.

Mark Rutte, the acting Dutch prime minister, is meeting Boris Johnson for a working dinner in London on Friday night. While Mr Rutte is over 6ft 3ins tall, the British prime minister measures up to a comparatively stunted 5ft 9ins.

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