Anyone who has been the Netherlands, especially those of us who are average UK height, will have noticed just how tall the Dutch are! Well it is well known across much of the western world that people are getting taller. I am 10 cm taller than my mum and she is 10 cm taller than her mum. This increase in height with younger generations has been tied to improving environmental conditions (more nutrition). Well a new study now suggests that natural selection may also be a contributing factor: taller Dutch women have a higher infant survival rate.
The Dutch are the tallest people on earth. Over the last 200 years, they have grown 20 cm in height: a rapid rate of increase that points to environmental causes. This secular trend in height is echoed across all Western populations, but came to an end, or at least levelled off, much earlier than in The Netherlands. One possibility, then, is that natural selection acted congruently with these environmentally induced changes to further promote tall stature among the people of the lowlands. Using data from the LifeLines study,