Dutch men and Latvian women are the tallest in the world, new study finds

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A new study in collaboration with the World Health Organisation compares the evolution of body height by gender over a century, from 1914 to 2014. It confirms that Dutch men are still the tallest in the world at 183 cm (6ft), a status they have held for several decades. Latvian women overtook Scandinavian, Dutch and German and have become the world's tallest, at 170 cm (5ft 7in).

Here is the BBC article.

The nations with the tallest men in 2014 (1914 ranking in brackets):

  1. Netherlands (12)
  2. Belgium (33)
  3. Estonia (4)
  4. Latvia (13)
  5. Denmark (9)
  6. Bosnia and Herzegovina (19)
  7. Croatia (22)
  8. Serbia (30)
  9. Iceland (6)
  10. Czech Republic (24)
  11. Germany (34)
  12. Slovenia (31)
  13. Norway (2)
  14. France (42)
  15. Sweden (1)
  16. Finland (25)
  17. Slovakia (20)
  18. Australia (15)
  19. Lithuania (16)
  20. Ireland (43)

It's interesting that the tallest men are found in countries with high percentages of Y-haplogroup I1 and I2, but not necessarily those with the highest WHG ancestry. I suppose that the reason why Finnish men aren't taller (despite 28% of I1) is because of their 6% of Mongoloid admixture. Likewise, the Swedes and Norwegians may have intermarried more with the Saami during the course of the 20th century, thus counteracting the growth brought by better nutrition. It would be interesting to see if there is a north-south gradient for height mirroring the percentage of Saami ancestry. It is to be expected since the Danes overtook them and lack a Saami population or Mongoloid admixture.

North Americans fell sharply in the ranking, but that is almost certainly due to to immigration from short stature countries, notably from Latin America, South Asia and East Asia. There is a good chance that Caucasian Americans grew as fast as Europeans, if not more.


The nations with the tallest women in 2014 (1914 ranking in brackets):

  1. Latvia (28)
  2. Netherlands (38)
  3. Estonia (16)
  4. Czech Republic (69)
  5. Serbia (93)
  6. Slovakia (26)
  7. Denmark (11)
  8. Lithuania (41)
  9. Belarus (42)
  10. Ukraine (43)
  11. Slovenia (76)
  12. Iceland (3)
  13. Finland (45)
  14. Germany (23)
  15. Australia (29)
  16. Bosnia and Herzegovina (46)
  17. Sweden (1)
  18. Croatia (135)
  19. Norway (2)
  20. Tonga (7)

Baltic, Slavic and Germanic countries top the list, all countries with considerable ancestry from the Corded Ware culture.

Surprising how tall Tongan women are, and how tall they already were 100 years ago!


Also of interest, the highest growth spurts in 100 years among males was observed in Iran (+16cm), followed by most of Europe (except Scandinavia), East Asia and Latin America. Iranian men were among the shortest (181st out of 200) in 1914. They now rank 67th.

Korean, Japanese and Balto-Slavic women who grew much faster than average.

Korean and Taiwanese men and women are now the tallest in East Asia, well ahead of the Japanese and Chinese.

The map below shows the change in adult height between the 1896 and 1996.

elife-13410-fig3-v1.jpg
 
growth spurts are connected with change in food habbit
far easterners are eating more and more dairy products allthough many are lactose intolerant
I suppose meat consumtion is still rising too
 
growth spurts are connected with change in food habbit
far easterners are eating more and more dairy products allthough many are lactose intolerant
I suppose meat consumtion is still rising too

I read that the Dutch were taller because of the high milk consumption (and very low lactose intolerance), but it is doubtful as Indians consume a lot of dairy product too (cream and ghee in curry, paneer cheese, lassi, raita, yoghurt, milky chai, etc.) but they haven't grown much over a century. However there are major variations between the north and south and even more between castes. I have noticed that Punjabi and Rajasthani Sikhs and upper caste Hindus can be really quite tall. That's the only place in the world with the Netherlands and northern Italy (Emilia-Romagna and northern Tuscany especially) where I have regularly met men as tall or taller than me, and I am 1m88 (6ft2). Northwest Indians have the highest Indo-Aryan ancestry in India, so genetics undoubtedly plays a role, in addition to wealth. Hindus are mostly vegetarian, but Sikhs and Muslims aren't. Dravidians and Tribal Indians are significantly shorter.

The are three main factors influencing height:

- genetics
- social class/wealth
- meat and dairy consumption
 
1m88 was the height of many of the BB people
I guess they were the elite, the wealthy class
I am only 1m83, my wife 1m68.
My daughter 1m68 and my sons 1m87 and 1m93.
I'm half Belgian, half Dutch.
 
"It's interesting that the tallest men are found in countries with high percentages of Y-haplogroup I1 and I2, but not necessarily those with the highest WHG ancestry."
Or in case of LV/EE and LT not necessarily I1/I2 :)
It looks very dynamic and quite unclear yet.
 
"It's interesting that the tallest men are found in countries with high percentages of Y-haplogroup I1 and I2, but not necessarily those with the highest WHG ancestry."
Or in case of LV/EE and LT not necessarily I1/I2 :)
It looks very dynamic and quite unclear yet.

Well Estonians have 15% of I1 (+3.5% of I2), almost as much as the Dutch and more than the Belgians. Lithuanians have 13% of haplogroup I in total, slightly more than the Scots or the Irish, and indeed Lithuania is just ahead of Ireland and Britain for male height. Only Latvians have less hg I than they 'should' based on the ranking.
 
Well Estonians have 15% of I1 (+3.5% of I2), almost as much as the Dutch and more than the Belgians. Lithuanians have 13% of haplogroup I in total, slightly more than the Scots or the Irish, and indeed Lithuania is just ahead of Ireland and Britain for male height. Only Latvians have less hg I than they 'should' based on the ranking.

Swedes have over 35% of I's if not mistaken (more then Holland and Latvia) and are 17th in that list.
 
Funnily enough I always wanted to be taller than my 5'5-6", but I never particularly liked really tall men. They usually looked overgrown to me, "American football types", and they were seldom graceful and elegant looking. (Someone like Joe Manganiello is an exception.) My husband's 6' or so is great, but height was really insignificant to me, although, as I love to dance, I liked it if a man was two to three inches taller, at least. Maybe this is something men care about a lot more than women do women.

Diet definitely has something to do with it; I must have overdone the cheese and generally the protein for my son as he's 6'3". Bizarrely, he has a preference for tiny girls, 5'2 or 3 or so. I think it looks funny, but hey, it's not my life and this kind of stuff is so trivial. As for the rest, they sort of look like me, so that makes me happy. Not that I needed that to know he sort of likes me. :)
 
I think is easy - project on one axis average height on other % of I1+I2. And try to see if there is any visible trend.
 
I think is easy - project on one axis average height on other % of I1+I2. And try to see if there is any visible trend.

there is a mathematical formula to test 'correlation' e.g. between 2 rows on a spreadsheet
it boils down to about the same
 
How tall on average are the Masai people and what haplogroups do they belong too?
 
There is some correlation between height and haplogroup I in Europe, but I don't think it is caused by the Y-chromosome itself. It's a group of autosomal genes that were spread by I1 and I2 people, so the correlation is approximate. Germanic people are all quite close genetically as they expanded from a core population around Denmark and North Germany about 2500 years ago. But various Germanic groups have wide differences in Y-haplogroups due to founder effects, which resulted in the West Germanic (Dutch, Belgian, English) having very high percentages of R1b, while Central Norwegians and East Germanics were biased toward R1a, and all Scandinavians toward I1.

So I think there were essentially three groups with alleles for increased height: ancient Germanic, Baltic and Dinaric people.
 
It happens to be that I live in Groningen, with the tallest people of the world, the average Dutchmen is 1.84m and the average Groninger is 1.86 m (I contribute a little bit to keep the average high with 1.94m ;)

Probably due to a combination of:
- Genes (for example in a small country like the Netherlands south of the Rhine the gene pool is different and the people are smaller)
- Good circumstances, welfare, good food (high milk consumption for example)
- Natural selection, preference for tallness.
See:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/08/scientists-try-to-answer-why-dutch-people-are-so-tall


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It happens to be that I live in Groningen, with the tallest people of the world, the average Dutchmen is 1.84m and the average Groninger is 1.86 m (I contribute a little bit to keep the average high with 1.94m ;)

Probably due to a combination of:
- Genes (for example in a small country like the Netherlands south of the Rhine the gene pool is different and the people are smaller)
- Good circumstances, welfare, good food (high milk consumption for example)
- Natural selection, preference for tallness.
See:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/08/scientists-try-to-answer-why-dutch-people-are-so-tall


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Bosnian Croat men are 1.86m on average.
 
There is some correlation between height and haplogroup I in Europe, but I don't think it is caused by the Y-chromosome itself. It's a group of autosomal genes that were spread by I1 and I2 people, so the correlation is approximate. Germanic people are all quite close genetically as they expanded from a core population around Denmark and North Germany about 2500 years ago. But various Germanic groups have wide differences in Y-haplogroups due to founder effects, which resulted in the West Germanic (Dutch, Belgian, English) having very high percentages of R1b, while Central Norwegians and East Germanics were biased toward R1a, and all Scandinavians toward I1.

So I think there were essentially three groups with alleles for increased height: ancient Germanic, Baltic and Dinaric people.
A good part of a male's height is determined by the Y chromosome. Autosomally, Dinaric people quite frequently have other autosomal influence- especially those living near the peripheries, but are still quite tall when I2a1b is frequent, so I think it is related to Y-DNA.
 
I guess that the Catholic Frisians are the tallest of the Netherlands....;)


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