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Q: I recently visited The Netherlands and couldn’t help but notice that many of its residents appear to be taller than average. What’s up with that?

A: You’re right. Netherlanders are not only taller than you, they’re taller, on average, than everyone on the planet.

The growth spurt has taken place over the last 150 years, propelled by, among other things, the nation’s health and wealth, according to a recent Associated Press report.

In the mid-1800s, prosperity propelled a growth spurt that was only interrupted by the harsh years of the Nazi occupation in the 1940s — when average heights actually declined, according to the AP report. Their protein-rich diet and national health service that pampers infants are credited with their post-war growth.

The average Dutchman is just over 6 feet tall, while women average 5-foot-7. By comparison, the average American is 2 inches shorter than the average Netherlander. American men now rank ninth and women 15th in average height, according to a recent story in The Washington Post.

The increasing height of the average Dutchman has prompted more than a few changes in the country, according to The Post. Four years ago, the government adjusted building codes to raise the standards for door frames and ceilings. Doors must now be 7-feet, 6 ½ inches high. Retailers are offering clothes that one might only expect to find in the Big and Tall store in the States.

Got a question about goings-on in Europe? E-mail: news@estripes.osd.mil


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