Since 1981, people have become taller and heavier

© Hollandse Hoogte / Allard de Witte
In 2018, the average height of Dutch men aged 20 years and over stood at 1.81 metres; for women the average height was 1.67 metres. Since 1981, the average body height has increased by 3.8 cm for men and by 1.5 cm among women. For each additional centimetre in body length, the average Dutchman has become 2.3 kg heavier between 1981 and 2018, while for Dutch females this was more than twice as much: 4.7 kg. This is evident from the Health Survey conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), in which respondents self-report on body height and weight.

In 2018, the average male was almost 14 cm taller than the average female. This height difference has increased by 2.3 cm since 1981. Men increased in height during the 1980s and 1990s in particular. This was also the case for women, although it was not as substantial. Throughout the past few decades, body weight has increased, with a peak in the 1990s. In the period 1990-2000 as well as 2010-2018, women gained considerably more weight, whereas their height hardly changed during those years.

Self-reported body height, 20 years and over (cm)
 MenWomen
1981177.3165.9
1982177.2166
1983177.4166
1984177.8166.1
1985177.8166.2
1986178166.3
1987178.1166.4
1988178.5166.6
1989178.5166.3
1990178.8167.1
1991178.8166.9
1992178.9166.8
1993179.2167.1
1994179.3166.9
1995179.4167.1
1996179.5167.3
1997180.2167.1
1998180.2167.2
1999180.3167.3
2000180.4167.7
2001180.6167.5
2002180.2167.6
2003180.4167.6
2004180.6167.4
2005180.6167.5
2006180.6167.6
2007180.8167.6
2008180.8167.8
2009181167.4
2010180.8167.6
2011180.9167.5
2012180.7167.6
2013180.8167.5
2014180.7167.3
2015180.7167.5
2016181.1167.3
2017181.1167.3
2018181.1167.4
Source: CBS, Health Survey. From 2014 onwards: Health Survey / Lifestyle Monitor (RIVM, CBS)

Self-reported body weight, 20 years and over (kg)
 MenWomen
198176.465
198276.264.9
198376.565.1
198476.965.1
198576.665.1
19867765.5
198777.665.6
198877.565.6
198978.166.2
199078.466.2
199178.466.3
199278.766.5
19937966.5
199479.866.8
199579.567.4
199679.767.6
199780.768.1
199880.568.3
199981.568.6
20008269.3
200182.669.3
200282.269.5
200382.769.7
200483.269.8
200582.969.6
20068370.3
200783.469.7
200883.570.3
200983.969.9
201083.870.2
20118470
201283.870.1
201383.870.3
201484.371.2
201584.271
201684.571.3
201784.971.2
20188572
Source: CBS, Health Survey. From 2014 onwards: Health Survey / Lifestyle Monitor (RIVM, CBS)

Increase in height and weight, 20 years and over (%)
KenmerkGeslacht1981-19901990-20002000-20102010-2018
Heightmen1.51.60.40.3
women1.20.6-0.1-0.2
Weightmen2.03.61.81.2
women1.23.10.91.8
Source: Health Survey. From 2014 onwards: Health Survey / Lifestyle Monitor (RIVM, CBS)

Short and tall

Most people are not that much taller or shorter than the average: 42 percent of men have a height which departs less than 5 cm from the average (1.81 metres), while the same is true for nearly half of all women (average height: 1.67 metres). Around 3 percent of men are at least 15 cm shorter than the average male; 4 percent are at least 15 cm taller than the average male. Among women, these shares amount to 2 and 3 percent respectively.

Height distribution (cm), 20 years and over, 2018 (%)
 MenWomen
Shorter than 153 cm0.12.1
153-1570.15.2
158-1620.715.9
163-1672.925.9
168-17211.427.1
173-17715.214.4
178-18225.67.7
183-18723.51.6
188-19212.40.2
193-1975.90
198 cm or taller2.10
Source: Health Survey / Lifestyle Monitor, CBS and RIVM

Weight distribution (kg), 20 years and over, 2018 (%)
 MenWomen
Less than 53 kg0.24.1
53-5717.8
58-621.814.7
63-674.716
68-7210.316
73-7712.411.3
78-8216.711.3
83-8714.56.2
88-92134.5
93-979.42.6
98-1025.71.9
103-1073.50.9
108 kg or more6.72.7
Source: Health Survey / Lifestyle Monitor, CBS and RIVM

Weight showing more extremes

In terms of body weight, the gender difference is slightly more skewed. Most men and women weigh just above or below the average. However, towards the upper extreme there are substantial outliers. People whose weight lies far above 100 kg are not an exception, among men in particular, but also among women.

Shorter south of the rivers

In the Health Monitor, a collaboration between the Association of Community Health Services (GGD Nederland), CBS and the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), respondents are asked about body height and weight as well. The wider scope of the survey makes it possible to create more (regional) breakdowns.

The average height of male and female adults (19 years or older) differs per province. The province of Limburg is most divergent in this respect: both men and women from Limburg are the shortest. Residents of Noord-Brabant are slightly taller than people in Limburg, albeit still shorter than the Dutch average. Disparities are not as wide north of the rivers, but the average height among both men and women generally lies just above the national average. The tallest people live in Friesland and Groningen. The difference in height between citizens of Friesland and Groningen on the one hand and Noord-Brabant and Limburg on the other is around 3 cm, both among men and women.

On average, people with a migration background are shorter than native Dutch people. If this group is not taken into account, Limburg and Noord-Brabant residents remain the shortest. In this case, the average height is mainly greater in Noord-Holland, Zuid-Holland and Flevoland; a relatively large share of people with a (non-western) migration background live in these provinces.

Self-reported body height, 19 years and over (cm)
 MenWomen
Friesland181.95168.6
Groningen181.66168.39
Drenthe181.65168.33
Utrecht181.34167.84
Flevoland181.15166.79
Overijssel181.05167.85
Gelderland180.86167.36
Noord-Holland180.76167.56
Zuid-Holland180.04166.47
Zeeland179.96166.79
Noord-Brabant179.33166.14
Limburg178.56165.32
Source: Health Monitor adults and elderly, 2016, CBS, GGD Nederland and RIVM