The Dutch are now among the tallest in the world, despite being known a few centuries ago for being among the shortest, the Guardian reports. According to military records, the average height of a Dutch man is now eight inches taller than the average height 150 years ago.
While the average height of many populations has increased with a rise in living standards and prosperity, the Guardian notes that something else also seems to be at play here.
Researchers led by Gert Stulp from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine examined data from a study following nearly 95,000 people living in the northern part of The Netherlands. As they report in Proceedings B, the Royal Society journal, height appears to be linked to reproductive success and output across three decades, leading to taller men. As the Guardian adds, the most fertile men were 2.75 inches taller than average height and had an average 0.24 more children than the least fertile men.
While the researchers didn't perform any genetic testing, they argued that selection has lead to more Dutch people harboring tall gene variants.
"Natural selection in addition to good environmental conditions may help explain why the Dutch are so tall," the researchers add in their paper.