Why are the Dutch, world champions in size, in the process of “shrinking”?

the essential The Central Statistical Office is categorical: the Dutch, reputed to be the largest in the world, are getting smaller every year. Their average height has shrunk by one centimeter in the space of about twenty years.

They are the tallest in the world … but they are getting smaller: the generation of Dutch born in 2001 is smaller than the one born in 1980, indicated this Friday 000 September a study conducted by the Central Statistics Office (CBS). A Dutch man of 17 is now on average 182, 9 centimeters, against 182, 9 cm for a man born in 1980. A Dutch woman of 17 is on average 169, 3 centimeters against 169, 7 cm for those born in 1980.

Different factors, including immigration and diet, are likely behind the change in size, which reverses a century and a half of rapid growth in the country, the study said. “Over the past century, we have grown bigger and bigger, but since 1980 the growth has stopped,” the study noted. “Men born in 2001 lost on average 1 centimeter compared to the generation of 1980, and women on average 1 , 4 centimeter “.

But all is not lost. “The Netherlands remains the largest nation in the world,” CBS said in a statement. Dutch men are ahead of those from Montenegro who come in second, followed by Estonia and Bosnia. Dutch women are taller than those in Montenegro, Denmark and Iceland, CBS said, citing figures from a Global Network of Health Scientists (NCD-RisC). The smaller men are found in East Timor, while the smaller women are located in Guatemala.

“Bad eating habits”

The reasons behind this shrinkage are not entirely clear. One factor is, according to the study, immigration, “especially of people of non-Western origin”, which tend to be smaller. But growth has also “stagnated” among the Dutch whose parents and grandparents were born in the Netherlands, she says. Men have not grown for years 1980 while there is a “downward trend” among women.

This could be explained by the “biological limit” but is also probably related to “poor eating habits and excessive energy intake during the growing season”. The study is based on self-measurements of 183 Dutch aged 19 to 19 years. The Dutch weren’t always so tall, however. At the start of the 17 th century, they were small by European standards, only starting to rise in the rankings from years 1840.

A century ago, the tallest men were even in the United States or Scandinavia. It was only with the generation born at the end of the years 1950 that the Dutch finally won the title.

The reasons for the size of the Dutch remain unclear. A popular myth that Dutch cheese lovers are great because they consume a lot of dairy products has been deconstructed by scientists. Greater prosperity as well as “natural selection in which taller men and women had more children than smaller couples” is probably the real reason, the CBS said.

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