European women’s body types

Body Types

Tourist buttThe tourist season has begun in Amsterdam. The weather is a bit nicer (well, to Dutch standards) and tourists regularly arrive in town every friday to spend a weekend in the city. I can’t help but notice how people from the same country share similar looks, physical traits and body types.

I’m originally from France and I’ve been living in the Netherlands for some years now. When it comes to European tourists I often predict accurately the country the person comes from before she’s even said a word.

It’s interesting to see how body types and cultural differences make people look the way they look.

I don’t believe genetics play a huge part in our body’s shape (according to diet expert Tosca Reno, the equation is 10% genetics, 10% training, 80% nutrition). However, it is obvious that different people store fat in different ways. Even on a small continent such as Europe, there are many differences between northern and southern European women.

Of course I’m generalizing in my following descriptions, these are only subjective observations I’ve made.

Frequent body types of German / Dutch women

Android or Lymphatic shapes

Body types: Northern European women tend to be tall (Dutch women are the tallest in Europe) and muscular in shape. They have thick bones and muscles. When wearing skirts, few have lean “top model”-looking legs. At the gym, they have good muscular strength and coordination but low speed and poor flexibility.

Diet: They tend to have a protein-rich diet. Dutch love dairy. They drink milk and eat Dutch cheese every single day, and no one suffers from lactose intolerance. German eat less cheese but lot of pork (sausages, ham) almost on a daily basis.

Northern European women crave fatty foods or salty foods in addition to ‘classic’ female cravings (chocolate, sweets etc). Dutch, Belgian, German people all love potato fries.

Good habits: Dutch women cycle everyday to go to work. Cycling in the Netherlands is a common, daily method of transport. Lots of German cities are bicycle-friendly too.
Dutch en German people don’t eat much “white” refine carbs. The bigger part of their carbs intake comes from brown bread and complex carbs.

Frequent body types of Scandinavian women

Android or Thyroid shapes

Body types: They are the one looking the best at the gym. Women from Denmark, Norway and Sweden seem to basically have the same kind of body types than German/Dutch women. However, they seem to follow a healthier diet, known as the Nordic diet.

The Nordic Diet: Using Local and Organic Food to Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
Diet book “The nordic diet”

Diet: Northern Europeans don’t follow the so-called healthy Mediterranean diet (fruit, vegetables, olive oil, nuts and cereals, low amounts of red meat and dairy products) because it’s not compatible with the ingredients produced in northern Europe.

The nordic diet is based on food that’s easily grown and produced in colder climates: fatty fish, cabbage, root vegetables and rye bread.

Good habits: They eat local, seasonal vegetables, and they are regularly active outdoors despite their country’s climate.

Frequent body types of Italian / French women

Gynaeoid or Tyroid shapes

Body types: Their bones are light and their muscles are small. Fat get stored mainly on the butt and thighs. Usually these women don’t get fat in the face, forearms and shins. Looking really overweight is rare for these populations, simply because a lot of them store fat only on their lower body. They won’t gain lot of muscle mass at the gym, even if they weight-train seriously.

An Italian tourist’s butt

Bad habits: They eat white carbs (bread or pasta) every day and crave sugary foods (chocolate, pastry).

French Women Don't Get Fat
Book “French women don’t get fat”

Good habits: The principles of Mireille Guiliano’s diet book “French women don’t get fat”: small portions of everything, savoring and enjoying the pleasures of food, rather than obsessing over it. But Mireille does forget to tell her American readers something very important: French women don’t get really fat, but many are skinny-fat: slim and fat at the same time. Despite appearing to be a healthy weight, they’ve got extra body fat and jiggle areas. After they passed 50 lots of them tend to have flat, sad butts.

Young Italian women look actually slimer than French women, but get bigger than French women after menopause. I guess after 50 the body becomes less forgiving with eating pasta on a regular basis.

I took all of the pictures from this test:

After taking the test, the result for my body type were: Gynaeoid: 56%, Thyroid: 44%, which make sense considering my French genes. In which body types do you recognize yourself? (I couldn’t write a paragraph on British women because I’ve never been in the UK -such a shame I know!). If you’re American, do you believe the nationalities of your ancestors have an impact on your body type?



  1. Alison says

    I came out as 51% Android, 28% Thyroid. I don’t know what happened to the other 21% of me! I think that’s fairly typical of British women though — we’re a bit of a mixed bag. Certainly I identify most with the tall Northern European body type, but there are plenty of women in the UK that are pear or apple shaped. It would be interesting to read up on how much genetics plays a role in this though, and how much is diet. I definitely think the fact that Northern Europeans tend to stay away from processed carbs is significant. Though I have had some amazing apple pie in Amsterdam, and Rumkugeln are also to be recommended if you’re ever in Germany.. ! Anyway, really interesting post, thanks.

  2. wonky_monkey says

    Mine at least had the right proportions (think it was 68% Gynaeoid, 28% Thyroid)! But I’m half British and half Korean and I don’t know how western-biased that test is. My (English) mum is very much the classic Northern European tall and leggy athletic type. My dad is typically Korean! I’d expect genetics plays quite a big part in my case, in that I have a very typically Korean bodyshape; I will always have wee short legs and store most of my fat on my legs and hips, no matter how I eat or train. It’s hard to measure this, but I also think that training might have a more than 10% impact on how I look as well. If I hadn’t trained a specific way I would be very pear-shaped; as it is I have big shoulders so I’m basically X-shaped (much better as far as I’m concerned!). Interesting post, thanks for putting it up!

  3. DonnyFan says

    hmmmmm…. I came out Gynaeoid: 63% Lymphatic: 37% I think, to be honest, I could probably pick bits out of all of them to suit me! I am definitely pear shaped though, and wish I could be lean and willowy! ;) Very interesting, thankyou for posting. x

  4. Anonymous says

    I’m 31%Gynaeoid and 63% Lymphatic. What sort of diet should i take to lose weight? any diet plans for this type of body?

  5. Elise says

    If you are predominantly lymphatic, I’d say that a protein rich diet with low carbs is unfortunately the best way to go to lose weight for your bodytype. When it comes to training, don’t do steady cardio, elliptical machine, or classes like Zumba (unless you’re a beginner and need to build up your cardiovascular resistance first), it would just be a waste of time. Instead, try kickboxing classes or bootcamp classes.

  6. Anonymous says

    I came out to 78% thyroid. This makes sense to me, as I am an American of Scandanavian and French descent. Very interesting blog – thank you.

  7. Elise says

    Hi Nsorocka, it’s actually a good combination :) Big opposites are Thyroid and Lymphatic together, but the rest of the other body types are often found combined together. Android and Gynaeoid is a combination I see often in Dutch and German women: a nice athletic frame where the fat is stored mainly on the butt and hips.

  8. Elise says

    Avoid eating too many carbs when you’re not active and moderate dairy intake. Android is a great body type! If you tend to gain muscle and look muscular easily, you can try to lean out by doing cardio classes such as spinning or body attack (from LesMills).

  9. Anonymous says

    Very interesting…I am American but of predominantly Norwegian and German descent. I came out 98% Android which fits.

  10. Lauren says

    I came out as 89% Gynaeoid, which I felt was high; I would have pegged myself at at least a quarter to a third Android as I have muscular thighs and upper arms through no effort on my part. I am American of mostly German and Scots-Irish descent, I am maybe an eighth French. My cravings are very in line with those described as Gynaeoid though, I have no trouble remaining on a vegetarian diet but I could not imagine giving up my sweets and red wine. I find I put on weight if I eat lots of cheese, ice cream and butter for a period, but my diet has been relatively high-carb my whole life and I easily maintain my weight (so far!) as long as I steer clear from too much dairy. My mother is the same way. She and I have very similar body types as well, at one point she was significantly overweight, wearing a US 16-18 on bottom, but did not appear to be as heavy as others the same height and weight as she does not put on weight in her face, arms or waist even after menopause.

  11. cvd says

    I came out as 100% thyroid. This definitely fits my build to a T but I am entirely of Dutch origin. Interesting.

  12. Anya says

    I was 60% Gynaeoid and 40% Lymphatic. I’m mostly German but also Norwegian and a little bit of either Polish or Russian. I was always very skinny growing up but now I’m struggling with my weight (it’s mostly my teenage junk food cravings and my un-athleticness catching up with me). I’m not looking for any fad diets, but do you have any tips just on keeping a healthy diet and exercise routine for my body type and age?

    • Elise says

      Hi Anya, taking into account your test-results and the fact that you were skinny growing up, I’d say that developing your muscle mass would probably be one of the key to balance your physique. You probably aren’t a very muscular woman but developing a bit more muscular mass by doing some kind of weight training could help you increase your metabolism, balance hormones and fight the fat/water retention in your lower body. If you have a gym membership, following a group lesson such as body pump could be very beneficial. Regarding the diet: green leafy vegetables, onions, leeks, paired with lean protein (turkey, chicken breast, tuna) can help. Try to notice how your body reacts to certain foods (dairy, gluten, soy) and eliminate or reduce these foods if you feel they contribute to water-retention and bloating.

  13. Tiffany says

    I am only half white, Belgian and Germanic roots–but this came out sooo wrong. I’m half Asian but I think much of my body shape is the German side…it told me that I am 91% Android which couldn’t be further from the truth…I noticed none of the shapes account for large BUST sizes, only bottom halves–and I definitely have a flat ass lol. My waist is very defined and my bust is very large, with almost exactly proportionate hips–but I am considered plus size with small hands, wrists, feet, ankles, and waist. All the women in my white family are similarly proportioned except with larger skeletons because they are full white. I think it’s interesting, but definitely not anywhere near enough body types listed. I also have an extreme amount of head on my hair (no balding) and good skin…lol. The other women in my family are the same! Hmmm. Interesting nonetheless…=)

  14. Lee says

    I am a Gynaeoid shape – do you have any healthy eating/diet plan tips for me. I am an OK weight at the moment – but looking at my Mum – I feel I might put a lot of weight on my lower half as I get older…Thanks!

    • Elise says

      Hi Lee, a few tips for your shape: go easy on the salt & drink a lot of water to avoid making water retention in your lower half, limit your sugar intake to keep cellulite under control, include a protein source in every meal.

  15. Rachel says

    I am American with Norwegian, Scottish, Irish and Dutch ancestors. I am 55% Android and 45% Lymphatic. The only difference is that I am a little curvier than those types. My hips and waist are not significantly different, but I have always had large breasts and shapely legs. I do have polycystic ovaries and must take on plenty of protein and limit refined carbs.

  16. says

    I’m an American with Scottish, Irish, Norwegian, Polish, and German ancestry. A big part of it is German. I got 79% andriod. I do think that body shape isn’t all genetics, I’ve recently been researching this because once my mom (where my german is from) mentioned that she builds muscle easily, well I do too. So I started googling it, and I figure it has to do with the German in my blood. Great post by the way!

  17. Melissa says

    I came out as 75% Gynaeoid and 25% Android but I am half Norwegian and the rest is a mix of Dutch, French, English and German. So who knows. I have more of the pear shape but I have a muscular physique. It is very easy for me to get in shape after a gym hiatus but sometimes it is hard to lose weight no matter how much I exercise…especially now since I just had a baby 5 weeks ago.

  18. Stephanie says

    I got gynaeoid as my result- but I didn’t get any variations or percentages of other types like most people seem to have. Does anyone know if they have changed the quiz since then? I was thinking I have quite a bit of Android as well.

    • Elise says

      Hi Stephanie, yes it’s a pity, it seems that they changed the way they show the quiz’s result: the percentages are not longer displayed. Maybe you can read the descriptions of the 4 types and judge for yourself or ask a friend to see if you also recognize other body type tendencies?

  19. Jaded says

    I am African American. I took that quiz but my results were completely wrong I ended up Android, but I am more gynaeoid. I have a combo of my mom’s shape and the typical shape for my dad’s side. The ladies on dad’s side are android. Mom is thyroid. I am a busty pear shaped woman. I have long limbs, small wrists and ankles with more muscular thighs and upper arms. I gain pretty proportionally, and still end up “curvy” at any size. My rib cage is narrower than my hips and is smaller than typical for someone of my size. When shopping for dresses, they tend to be both too big and to small in the bust with pulling and gapping at the armpits. And I have a short torso, so the waist is misplaced. Interesting post!

    • says

      Hi Jaded, thanks for your feedback! I’m not really surprised your results were wrong. You’re not the only one saying that: check out the comment of Tiffany above: she is half white and half Asian, and she wrote “this came out sooo wrong”… They removed the pictures they were using on that test (the pictures of the 4 different white women I use on this article) to make the test look more “generic” but I have to admit that their approach and the way they came up with these body types obviously comes from a White American perspective. That’s why as a European, I thought: this American test describes exactly how European women look like here in Europe!

      But if a big part of your ancestors isn’t from Europe, yes, I’m not surprised the results were wrong. If we can come up with 4 different body types on a small continent such as Europe, big continents like Africa and Asia have a broader variety of body types. It would be interesting to compare your body type with people from African countries like Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal or Gambia and notice some similarities. But unfortunately for African Americans, researching their ancestry is way more complicated compared to white Americans or Asian Americans who always easily know their origins (and even if they don’t know, their family name usually give a good clue of the country they originally come from).

      I think this British article conveys a broader oriented view on body types:

  20. Sarah says

    Apparently I am a Thyroid body type. Never knew… I do am tall and very skinny with long limbs (those are my dad’s genes, he looks ‘aryan’ ). But I have very wide shoulders too (thank you for those genes mom). Being Belgian I can say that we’re a lovely mix of everything xP

  21. Nourie says

    I took the test and I came out Gynaeoid, which is completely accurate, though I’m not European. I’m actually Egyptian with a probable amount of French for certain characteristics and also because my mother’s side comes from a part of Egypt where a lot of people have a mixture of Arab and French descent. Aaaand probably because most Egyptian women tend to have the Gynaeoid shape. Very pleased!

  22. Masha says

    I took the test and came out a no-nonsense Thyroid: a delicate body, small breasts and, consequentially, an “underdeveloped” appearance have been real challenges for me as were attempts to gain weight, but now I realise that’s just my anatomy and there is no need to complain. Running is and was always a favourite sport; I practise yoga daily, love lifting weights and abstain from smoking, alcohol and most processed foods.

    I’m a Russian Trans-Baikal Cossack — that is an ethnic sub-variant; indigenous Siberian (technically Asian) genetics add to the Slavic/European Russian population. Such tribal ancestry (Evenki, Nanai-Tungus, Orochi, and Daūr), descending maternally, I have 6% of; there are more Thyroid women with narrow waists and small breasts on my mother’s side (mainly cousins), though she is a Gynæoid. Frequent needs to release energy and run descend paternally, though my father is an Android and fully European Russian. Quite a few of his male and female siblings and ancestors have hard-working/athletic tendencies. My paternal aunt is a Lymphatic and has an occupation which involves loading heavy objects.

    Loved the article, test and facts I need to keep aware of to stay in shape. Very straightforward and interesting!

  23. naomi says

    I came out with Android :/. Didn’t read the percent. But I have a nice butt when I work towards it. I’ve always gotta stay on top of my game. Othewise I lose my shape. My shape comes from pure muscle .. Whichh |I like with fatt :) :) :):):):) ..

  24. says

    “Your Body Type is Thyroid”

    I’m a 13 year old girl and I have a Thyroid body shape… I am pretty small though, hahah!

    I guess I have the same shape as Italian and French women then… though I’m English! [Well, mixed european, but..tssch!]

    • Rachel says

      I’m a Thyroid shape body from the test and I think mine was super accurate. I’m American that can be traced all the way back to early settlers from England in the late 1700’s.

      My preferred diet is very “Nordic” so I guess that makes sense that I came out with longer legs.!

  25. Lauren Thompson says

    My results for the test was Android body shape however I think I’m more of a very slim Lymphatic shape. Sadly, I’m short not tall like Dutch or German women and I am also British. I am not sure of my ancestry

  26. Breejen says

    The test didn’t give me any percentage but I got Gynaeoid. On my family tree, many people are from the Netherlands or Ireland and most women in my family appear to be Android but my test was definitely correct, although I think I got it from my Dad’s side of the family

  27. says

    I came up as G type! Surprisingly, it does suit me (Although the tips to reduce fat are the hardest to follow :( ) Weird, I fit in ‘European’ body types o.O

  28. Rhiannon says

    So my results came out pretty inaccurate. It told me I had an android body. I do have a rather thick bone structure but I would not classify myself as not having curves. I have what you would call a fat hourglass figure. I am American but have a lot of German blood which explains the thick bone structure.

  29. Jo says

    Totally Android. I’m so Android, that I’m viewing this page ON an Android phone, get it? I’m Latin American but my origins are Italian, Galician, Dutch and Adriatic: very dark hair and eyes, but almost no melanin (except that my arms and legs can actually tan). I have a massive bone structure and hefty muscles that make me look much more thinner than what the scale says. I’m also tall to boot.

  30. Dr. Kone says

    I’m a doctor, and although (by a crazy turn of opportunity) I’m working in hepatitis C drug development right now, the bulk of my short career (only 6 yrs out of residency) has been in endocrinology/diabetes/obesity, but bc I am so fresh out of residency I am up to date on all the robust and current research. I actually stumbled across this website looking for some info re: my upcoming trip back to the Netherlands, but thought I might comment since it seems you might be interested.

    The 10/10/80% split is total pseudo-science non-sense. Any endocrinologist who has been studying the last 50 yrs of metabolism/obesity research and controlled studies will tell you that genetics are the overwhelmingly dominant force in determining your body type. Actually, if you think about what you just wrote, that you can tell a woman’s body type by where she is from, doesn’t that make sense? Of course, diet does have an impact, but in 2014, do you really think that women in each region are eating a uniform diet? Of course not, in the age of globalization diet, in a place like let’s say Netherlands, is all over the place. Food from around the world is not only omni-present but that variety is encouraged and considered a normal part of Western European life. The fact that these women still maintain easy to identify body-types, despite this, should tell you all you need to know. Genetics are king (or queen haha) when it comes to determining not only height and bone/muscle characteristics, but weight as well. Why wouldn’t it, if we think about this scientifically for a second, why would weight be the ONE thing in the human body that isn’t dominated by genetics, you know? You often touch upon this concept above, many women (depending on ethnicity) cannot build muscle mass or will not gain weight in their face, showing how important genetics are to metabolism/weight.

    If you’re interested, feel free to email me to discuss further, but in the years I was involved in diabetes and obesity research, I was reminded of a very valuable point every day: weight does NOT come down to calories in vs calories used. That is an archaic concept that was disproved as early as the 50’s/60’s. The body has a “thermostat” that is genetically set to where it wants to keep your weight, you can alter this through diet (by changing the bacterial composition of your intestines) and exercise (by decreasing insulin sensitivity in the periphery) but picture it as your thermostat at home (as long as it’s not digitial haha), it only goes so far to the right or left, the range is say 50F to 80F, not -20F to 140F, and you can think of weight the same way. There are so many factors that play into weight that we don’t think about which the body can change to compensate, the amount of glucose excreted by the kidneys, the amount of insulin released by the B-cells in the pancreas and the sensitivity of your muscles/fat to use this, your body’s propensity to store glucose in the liver and how readily it decides to burn this off, the metabolic demands of your body (some people just run “hotter” than others, even 0.1 degree can matter), the effect of leptins/glycolypoproteins on your GI system, the composition of your GI flora, etc etc .

    Point is, all we can do is eat as healthy as possible and exercise as much as possible (within reason) and not freak out if we’re not exactly how someone thinks we should be. Trust me, from the keyboard of someone who devoted 10 yrs of their life to this field at the highest level, you really can’t change your body that much, you can only fine tune what you were born with.

    • says

      Hi Dr. Kone,

      Thank you for your comment! I agree that genetics play a very important role in determining the way we look and that the 10/10/80% is an argument mainly invented by diet book authors.

      However, when looking at populations with similar genetics, it can be very interesting to note that there can be big differences depending on the country they live in and the food they have access to.

      For example : Italians living in Italy versus Americans of Italian descent. Or Chinese people living in China versus Chinese Americans.

  31. Roxane says

    My French self is 100%Android, and I have to say that I agree with this statement :)
    Although I sometimes get comments that my shoulders are the one of a mover, it is very easy for me to build muscle and to progress quickly when training… Which I think is great!

  32. Bobby Gib says

    I tend to be attracted to Women with a German-Irish mix in them with Bigger than Average Arms and Chests that are solidly built by Lifting Weights. Has there ever been Accurate Research to see which European Nationalities Men are attracted to?

  33. Ameline says

    I don’t know, I can’t seem to find myself in any of the body types. I’m from the middle of Europe, seems like strong germanic and slavic elements combine in me. I have thick bone structure, easily put on weight, but I also build muscle just as easily. Body-wise I am a true hourglass, if only a bit too curvy – manly wide shoulders, womanly wide hips, small ribcage and tiny waist, gain weight everywhere except the middle, most goes to the breasts and behind. I swear I should have grown about 5″ taller and then I would have been perfect :D The test placed me as an android, which seems very un-true after reading the description.

  34. Gesine says

    Germany, Netherlands, Belgium etc. aren’t Northern European, they’re Western and/or Central. Geography is awesome, you should check it out.

    • says

      I live in Europe and I’m European. Ask any European person and they’ll tell you Germany, Netherlands, Belgium are Northern European countries, as opposed to Southern European countries like Spain or Italy. We called the northernmost part of Europe Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden).
      Geography is not dictated by your American choice of words.

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