tall dutch

The Tallest Nation



twin skinny don’t mind
debate potential natural selection
genes chance period (2)
predict achieve campaign
crowd flock (2) explanation
adapt calcium contribute
hope minimum attractive
spurt pass on






Astrid is 42 years old, and a mother of twin boys.

She also has very big feet.

Astrid: “Have you got some sandals?”
Sales Clerk: “Yeah. What size?”
Astrid: “43.”
Sales Clerk: “Yeah.”

That’s because Astrid is Dutch — officially the world’s tallest nation. And at almost two meters (that’s about six-foot-six), Astrid is among the tallest.

Astrid Van Der Meer, 199 cm, 6’6”: “I don’t mind it anymore. When I was twelve years old, I was the same height as now.

So I was very tall and very skinny at that time; I was 50 kilos.”

Why the Dutch are so tall is something scientists are still debating. Other European nations have grown up too — but not nearly so fast.

The latest research suggests height may have something to do with natural selection. Over the last 150 years, Dutch men have grown twenty centimeters. But Americans have grown only six centimeters over the same period.

Some studies show tall Dutch people have more children, so have a better chance of passing on their genes.

But some much shorter scientists in the US say that doesn’t explain the speed of growth.

Joel Hirschhorn, Harvard Medical School: “We know that genetics predict that the Dutch would actually be the tallest people in Europe. And they’ve now achieved that.

And so some of it may be that the Dutch had further to go than say the Americans did, over the last 150 years. And so that may explain part of why they’ve grown so much, that they’ve had more genetic potential to achieve so they had a bit longer, more growing to do.”

Every Friday, crowds flock to the old town of Alkmaar to see the famous cheese market.

The high dairy diet is another possible explanation . . . all the calcium contributing to big bones.

But there’s no getting away from that natural selection theory.

Journalist: “Do you find taller women more attractive than shorter women?”
Robbert Jan Roet, 205 cm, 6’7”: “Yes, certainly.”
Journalist: “How tall do they have to be?”
Robbert: “Uh, minimum 180.”
Journalist: “180?”
Robbert: “Yes.”
Journalist: “So no hope for me?”
Robbert: “No. Sorry. Hahaha.”

Whatever the reasons, and there are plenty, the Dutch are having to adapt to the growth spurt: doorways have to be higher. And there’s a Dutch campaign to get more leg room on planes.

That should be welcomed by everybody, tall and short.

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1. What distinction do the people of the Netherlands have? What can you say about Dutch people?

2. Did Astrid experience a sudden growth spurt as a teenager, or was she always tall as a child?

3. Scientists all agree on why the Dutch are so tall. True or false?

4. Have the Dutch always been very tall?

5. What is the explanation of natural selection?

6. Is diet a possible reason for tallness? Could food be a reason for the Dutch’s tallness? Which food did they mention?

7. According to the Dutch, taller people are more beautiful and handsome. Is this right or wrong?

8. Will there be changes with products? How and why will there be changes?

A. Do people in your city tend to be tall, medium-height or short? What is the average height for men and women?

B. Have heights been changing (increasing) over the years? Are younger people taller than older people?

C. Every man and women wants to be tall(er). What do you think?

D. Are taller people more “successful” in jobs, careers, business, romance, politics, sports, fashion, TV, entertainment?

E. How can people become taller?

F. What will happen in the future?

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