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October 14, 2008


I assumed you were going to stick with the blog's theme and answer the question of how to have taller children with "be tall and have the other parent be tall as well".

Why does it matter?

Obviously, eating enough PROTEIN on a regular basis allows a Homo Sapiens reach its genetical potential both IQ and height wise. Proteins are the building blocks or biological organisms. (Genes in fact are nothing else than codes for building different types of proteins). However, there is definitively a limit on genetic potentials. I don't really think the problem is that US children aren't eating enough protein. I think the real issue is that the genetic potential of its population has changed. Whites can get much taller than east asians and Latinos (due to thei amerindian part). Obviously, a country which gets less whiter and more Asian and mestizo will have a population with a lower height. Diets based on protein alone are toxic for homo sapiens, specially the kidneys. The biggest potential for height are among African races. But the variance among African races is huge, so I'm leaving them out, and the African American part of the population of the US has beenn pretty constant anyway.

The average Dutch woman is said to be 5'8". That's three inches taller than the average white woman of European descent who lives in the United States. It must be the milk and cheese.

I'm Dutch and I believe that most of us got so ridiculously tall, because we have excellent prenatal screening and postnatal care in hospitals and babycenters for at least the past 40 years.

I mean, it really is striking how tall Dutch men are -- or our women! Geez. When I'm at a club, I'm looking straight at a fucking rainforest. Although, I'm not very tall, I am much taller than my father or my uncles, who are actuallt quite short. They grew up in Indonesia and came here at age 14/16, so that will have hurt their potential somewhat.

Food, of course, matters too, but the Dutch kitchen isn't exactly very good or spectular or much different from the US or other Western or Northern European countries. Most of us have a varied, but not very culinary diet: meat, potatoes (cooked, not fried) and some vegetables. Also, since the nineties, most families cook more *european*, non-traditional.

We have a lot of immigrants who settled here and their childrean are quite tall too. Although, I don't have the numbers, I can see a clear difference between them and most of their parents. Most first generation muslim immigrants (Turks or Moroccons) are average-sized for Mediterranians. (It's just how you look at it. They won't be much different from Italians or Greeks in height, I guess.)

PS You're right about the dairy products, most Dutch consume it like mad. But fish? No way. Occasionally, yes, like herring -- but daily? No. And most urban Dutch eat the same McDonald's garbage that all westerners consume. So that can't be it.

Are these studies race-normalized? It is possible that average heights in America are dropping due to Hispanic and Asian immigration.

Here's a quote from the article:

"But if the average Norwegian is taller than the average Nigerian it’s because Norwegians live healthier lives"

Hispanics and Asians are more of a percentage of the population of the US than before. Their average height is lower, therefore lowering the overall US average height.

Sabril, you beat me to the punch.

I actually looked at the article, and it does say that the study took race into account. Even so, I am skeptical. The egalitarian dogma is just so damn pervasive.

Anyway, it is likely that the proportions of ethnicities among America's whites has changed over the past 50 years.

"Even so, I am skeptical. The egalitarian dogma is just so damn pervasive."

More like when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail.

I've been to the low countries. The white people there are taller. A lot taller.

Not much detail here. The demography of the US has changed significantly since the late 50s/early 60s.

"It must be the milk and cheese."

I was all ready to dismiss this, with my sarcasm drive all booted up and everything, but then it turns out childhood milk consumption does have a significant relationship with height:

"Results indicate that adult height was positively associated with milk consumption at ages 5-12 and 13-17, after controlling for sex, education, and ethnicity......milk consumption frequency and milk intake (measured as grams of milk, or protein or calcium from milk) were significant predictors of the height of 12-18 year olds, along with age, sex, household income, and ethnicity."


And it goes even further than that. Women who drink a lot of milk give birth to larger infants. And size at birth predicts larger adult height.


Americans are short because they drink far more coca-cola and pepsi than Europeans, and drink less milk.


Two comments:

1) the studies that show height differentials between the US caucasian and Dutch populations *remove* hispanics and non-whites from the sample before computing averages. Also, the Dutch are taller than their European neighbors, which adds to the puzzle. In fact, historically, the Dutch were not known within Europe for their height.

2) I have heard the theory that it is due to hormones in their milk and meat. It is claimed that Dutch dairy farmers use a "feedlot" model due to scarcity of land, which means the milk and meat they eat has higher levels of growth hormones than in other countries.

If any HS commenters can actually understand these two points and make an intelligent comment (particularly about (2)), I would be quite interested in more information.

"Height in the United States stopped increasing fifty years ago, and in fact women are now getting shorter"

This is incorrect. The average white American man was 5'8" in the 1850s, 5'7" by 1917, over 5'9" in the 1970s, and today about 5'11"


BTW, HS may not like this, but the explanation I have heard most often is the one below (see Drukker's research for more details). It is the egalitarian nature of Holland's lineral democracry that supposedly explains their height advantage.

For those who don't believe there is a gap, the average young Dutch man is about 6"1 now, which certainly makes them taller than non-Hispanic whites here in the US.

"The most convincing argument for why the Dutch have grown so tall so recently was put forward by J.W. Drukker, a professor of economic history at the University of Groningen. His studies revealed that the Dutch growth spurt of the mid-19th century coincided with the establishment of the first liberal democracy. Before this time, Holland had grown rich off its colonies but the wealth had stayed in the hands of the elite. After this time, the wealth began to trickle down to all levels of society, the average income went up and so did the height.

Since then, the gap between the rich and poor in Holland has remained relatively narrow, and the country now has some of the best pre- and postnatal care in the world. This is in direct contrast to America where the population, once more than 3 inches taller than the average Dutchman, has not increased in height for 25 years. Although America itself is wealthy, the wealth is not evenly distributed."

The Dutch used to be much the same height as other NW Europeans, as far as I know. Now they are bloody pine trees. No-one has mentioned the habit of eating ham and cheese at breakfast with chocolate on top.

Americans *are* growing significantly.

It's just not in the vertical dimension.

""Height in the United States stopped increasing fifty years ago, and in fact women are now getting shorter""

American milk consumption has fallen by almost half since 1950.

Per capita milk consumption:

1909: 34 gallons
1945: 45 gallons
2001: 23 gallons

"the decline in per capita consumption of fluid milk also may be attributed to competition from other beverages, especially carbonated soft drinks and bottled water"


Of course that New Yorker article blames a lack of socialized health care. In reality Pepsi and Coke stunted our growth, harming our ability to physically intimidate our Chinese and European rivals!

America leads the world in sugary beverage consumption. Most soda consumed per capita, second most fruit juice per capita behind Canada.

This is the biggest difference between the American and European diet.

Give your kids more milk and less soda and fruit juice, and you can add two inches to their adult height.

It also might help to replace the Frosted Flakes with ham and cheese.

Yes, skip the horrid fruit juices, and just give the kids some goddamn fruit!

And for godsakes, put down that kool-aid packet prole mother.

Wow Half, you really know how to state the obvious.

Nevertheless, I have a question to pose for you all. My mom is 5'2". My dad is 6'0". My paternal grandfather and maternal grandfather are both 6'2". I'm only 5'9". Is this result of my mom's small stature or a lack of protein in my diet while I was growing up?

Chris, height is almost entirely genetic, and most of the genetic variation in height is found within families. While parent height is the best predictor of their children's adult height, siblings typically differ by several inches.

So your height is nothing abnormal, it's most likely just the genetic hand you were dealt.


Dutch - meat, eggs, cream, fish
Americans - twinkies, cereal, fruit juice, bagels

Which diet is closer to what bodybuilders eat? Which would Vince Gironda and Weston A. Price recommend?

I'm amused by clueless American "nutritionists" who are befuddled - just confused! - about the French paradox. "They eat so much saturated fat and cholesterol but they have less heart disease than us!"

Umm... maybe saturated fat and cholesterol *don't* cause heart disease?

And don't get me started on the FDA food pyramid from the 90s!

"Is this result of my mom's small stature or a lack of protein in my diet while I was growing up?"

Actually you are a couple inches taller than your parents height would predict.

(157.48cm + 182.88cm + 5)/2 = 172.68cm (5'7")


So blame your mom, and consider yourself lucky.

Americans get way too many of their calories from carbs. People who live on mostly carbs can be malnourished and obese at the same time.

America's average height is still increasing, yes, but only because older shorter people are dying off. But if you look at a cross-section of average height today split up by age, you can see that the peak has already occurred and people are now getting shorter again.

Here's a chart for average adult male height among blacks which shows that this generation of blacks is more than an inch shorter on average than their parents:


Focus on the middle line, the 50th percentile, which shows that the tallest age group is centered around age 35, which cannot be due to nature alone. A much smaller decrease can be seen for white men, but the peak is still in the 35-40 range, which means that today's white young adult males are also shorter on average than their parents. The decrease is also visible among women, but it seems to be less pronounced, which would contradict the source quoted above.

Incidentally, when Coon went around Europe collecting height data in the early 1900s, the pattern was a lot different. The Dutch were a little above average, but the British, the Yugoslavs, and the Iraqis (!) were the real giants of the map. Meanwhile southern Italians were no taller than the Samis of northern Scandinavia.

I've looked into this before and I do believe that yes, junk food is the main culprit.

i guess the GROWTH HORMONE in meat is bogus. as far as i know, growth hormones are protein, so we digest them into aminoacids and transform AA into any other protein or even energy. got it?

One of the factors that everyone here is forgetting is the addition of vitamins to the flour supply.

It was done in the 1930s in America, and not done consistently in Europe until well after WW2.

Most of the recent immigrants to this country come from places where this vital and cheap nutritional choice has not been implemented.

It is about 6 cents per hundred pounds of flour to add the nutrients. Of course, the super organic crowd only feed their children *natural* stuff, and will of course, have shorter children.

Poor nutritional content is what keeps most people short- native americans raised with an adequate diet soared in height after the end of poor soil nutrition subsistence crops. The Pima in Arizona are a prime example of a people that are *much* taller than they were 70 years ago or even 200 years ago.

Now they do suffer from fantastically high diabetes, but that is primarily from sedentary lifestyle combined with a high sugar diet.

Those starvation genes just are not well suited to a modern lifestyle.

I'd be interested to see the data broken out by state, or at least by region. I'll bet you'd see that regions where there are more northern Europeans (e.g. Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas) have taller people, ditto regions where blacks are more numerous, i.e. the deep south.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and speculate that the average height, both male and female in Southern California has decreased dramatically thanks to Latino and Asian immigration over the last 50 years. The stereotypcial tall, blond surfer dude is becoming an anachronism.

High insulin levels tend to blunt the action of growth hormone. Since sugary soft drinks and carb-centered diets promote high insulin levels, it seems quite possible that bad nutrition is making white Americans shorter.

When early humans switched from a high-protein hunter/gatherer existence to a high-carb agricultural existence, average height--judging by skeletal remains--declined significantly.

This makes me inclined to welcome the increasing popularity of vegetarianism. After all, when the oil runs out we'll need a slave race.

For these purposes, so American Jews and Italians count as white? Because they sure don't count as Dutch.

Still, I suspect the nutrition angle is the right one. I've looked at the beds and walked through the doors in enough European historic chateaux to appreciate the change....

Within the Netherlands the distribution among Whites is probably even larger. In the Northern provinces of Groningen and Friesland (Frysia) boys are a lot taller than 6'1, I can assure you of that. That would be 1,85m and dutch men are clearly taller than that.

(I myself am 5'8, so I'm short for a Dutchman.)

"I actually looked at the article, and it does say that the study took race into account. Even so, I am skeptical. The egalitarian dogma is just so damn pervasive.

Anyway, it is likely that the proportions of ethnicities among America's whites has changed over the past 50 year"

It's important to know that "Hispanic" is often consider a category of linguistic ancestry rather than race, so studies can still say they take race into account while failing to distinguish Hispanics from non-Hispanic whites.

It is known that puperty stops long-bone growth. The earlier a girl enters puberty, the shorter she is likely to be. The average age for the onset of puberty in women has dropped in the last 40 years, due to the hormones that are routinely added to cattle and pigs.

No one's getting shorter. We're all getting taller (nutrition is making height and IQ go way up-check out the Flynn Effect). White U.S. men born in 1955 averaged 177.8 cm, white U.S. men born in 1975 averaged 179.5 cm. Black U.S. men born in 1955 averaged 177.1 cm. Black U.S. men born in 1975 averaged 177.7 cm.

Source: ^ Komlos, J. Lauderdale BE. 2007. The Mysterious Trend in American Heights in the 20th Century. Annals of Human Biology, 34, 2:206-215.

"The average age for the onset of puberty in women has dropped in the last 40 years, due to the hormones that are routinely added to cattle"

But the same hormones are making the Dutch people taller.

i have a number of dutch relatives and the men are around 6'7". my dutch grandmother used to cook us pot roast and cabbage and ladle it all with lard. she had no consumer packaged foodstuffs in her home. you'd find slow cook oatmeal, but not cheerios.

and yes, they love their dairy products. whole milk and cheese every day.


Additional growth also implies higher risk of osteoporosis?

"Each sip of milk contains powerful protein hormones as well as steroid hormones. The building blocks of protein hormones are amino acids. When comparing the bovine growth hormone (bGH) to the human growth hormone (GH), one finds many similarities. Both contain the exact same number of amino acids, 191, although the sequence of these aminos differs by about 35%.

There is a growth hormone more powerful than even GH. That hormone is called insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I). Each sip of milk contains IGF-I. IGF-I in humans and cows both contain 70 amino acids. Human IGF-I is identical to bovine IGF-I. The aminos occur in the same sequence. Much like a key fitting into a lock, the growth hormones are identical.

Eat calcium and grow tall? That's nonsense.

Drink milk containing powerful growth hormones and grow? That is true. Stretch your bones beyond the degree that they were originally designed for? That's what happens.

Perhaps that is why nations drinking the greatest amounts of milk also have the highest rates of crippling osteoporosis.

It's all about hormones. So, if you would like your child to become a pituitary freak, give him (or her) cow's milk. Milk is the ideal hormonal delivery system."

Tommy: "It's important to know that 'Hispanic' is often consider a category of linguistic ancestry rather than race..."

Perhaps among demographers and sociologists this is the case, bit in everyday colloquial English, I think it's the accepted terminology these days among people who consider themselves "polite." Using "Mexican" or "mestizo" strikes a lot of people as being too much like using "colored" or "negro" would be in describing blacks.

Speaking (possibly) of hormones, who cares about height, the real question is WTF is going on with Madonna's facial hair?

Re Madonna's facial hair: Finding the right dose of the right anti-aging hormones can be pretty tricky. That Madonna is allowing herself to be experimented on for the benefit of our children's children harkens back to the long-ago days when medical researchers used themselves for guinea pigs.

I hasten to agree with the nutrition explanation. Americans eat more simple starches, sugar, and hydrogenated vegetable oil than basically any other nation. By contrast, nations like the Netherlands eat complex carbohydrates and naturally-occuring animal and vegetable fats. An American kid's breakfast is likely to be Sugar Smacks with 2% milk. A Dutch kid's breakfast is likely to be slow-cooked oatmeal with whole, probably raw milk or cream. If it's ham and cheese, even more so. The nutritional difference is immense.

Since these studies are already race-adjusted, Asians and Mexican Indians are not to "blame".

Re Madonna: A lot of old Italian women grow facial hair. Nothing unusual here.

The hormones farmers give chickens and cows makes the animals grow to their full size much faster, and makes them larger than chickens and cows were 50 years ago. We eat those animals.

The milk, dairy, eggs, and meat consumption no doubt will get a kid to grow closer to his genetic potential height over what is now eaten in America.

If Scientists ever funded a study on what made kids grow the largest, parents all over America----especially white ones, would no doubt be force-feeding it to their kids in the endless sports-"live-thru-my-kids" arms-race that takes place out in Suburbia.

Of course we are getting to the gist of it here in its most primal terms.

One reason that Sigma hates "proles" (def. Ordinary white people from Iowa) is that they are half a head taller than he is.

"Re Madonna: A lot of old Italian women grow facial hair. Nothing unusual here."

Hold on!! Madonna is a LOT hairier than what that picture shows, and she always has been. Keep in mind this is a very rich woman who has a team of people to shave and bleach her wookie-like body daily.

If you've seen early pictures of Madonna, she has dark hair and a jet black unibrow that fills her entire forehead.



She obviously used a razor back then to shave it into two giant eyebrows. She also obviously had a mustache, if not a full black beard, that she shaved off.

Check out her daughter, Lourdes, who hasn't even hit puberty yet. She already has a thick mustache and unibrow.


The genuinely unusual thing about Peter's picture is why Madonna's team of groomers managed to bleach her thick black Taliban beard into an uneven blond fuzz, but decided not to just shave off the horrible-looking remainder.

HS, watch those portions. The Dutch eat much smaller portions on average. Not as small as the French but much smaller than the average American. The Denka of Dudan drink a lot of milk also and like the Dutch, they grow very tall. People who drink a lot of milk on average are taller than those who don't. It's my theory that milk is the reason why many first generation Asians-Americans are notably taller than their parents.

By the way, the two young Dutch colleagues I've had lately were indeed very tall, but not "well made" - they were tall and thin. Their shoulders and chests were small in proportion to their height. Any ideas, anyone?

I agree with dearieme that excessive height is not obviously a good thing in the Dutch I have observed. It seems a common "type" is tall, thin, not particularly athletic and sometimes oddly proportioned. But this is anecdotal.

More quantitatively, I would guess that although the Dutch are getting taller their bodyweight (muscle mass) might not be increasing proportionally.

Madonna is likely using some type of performance enhancing drugs, which may be having androgenic effects as well as the intended anabolic effects. If you've seen her buffed-up arms, which are more toned than those of most men who lift weights, she is likely taking something.

"...harming our ability to physically intimidate our Chinese and European rivals!"

Don't know about that. The physically smaller ChiComs and VC intimidated US soldeirs plenty in the Korean War and Vietnam. I have relatives who fought the SS and then the ChiComs. They all rated the PLA soldiers a tougher bunch.

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