November 30, 2015

Young men disadvantaged by forced dropping out in the Netherlands

Filed under: Health,Science by Branko Collin @ 11:47 pm

Girls’ brains develop faster than those of boys, and as a result boys aren’t always ready when it is crunch time in college, a literature review by researchers of Maastricht University and the University of Amsterdam concludes.

In 2009 Dutch institutions of higher education were given the right to ‘fire’ students with low grades (iudicium abeundi). The researchers fear that this measure unfairly disadvantages male adolescent students because their studying skills are less developed than those of female students of the same age. The study finds the non-cognitive brain functions favoured in today’s education, such as motivation, initiative and a talent for introspection, develop earlier in girls.

The study also finds large differences in non-cognitive skills within each gender, which is why the researchers recommend that interventions be aimed at both boys and girls. What these interventions could look like is too early to tell, the study reports.

The study entitled The Boys Against the Girls was commissioned by the Ministry of Education and was released earlier this month.

(Link: ANS, photo of a lightbulb by Emil Kabanov, some rights reserved)

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October 14, 2015

Biggest bra sizes and interesting condom purchases

Filed under: General,Health by Orangemaster @ 2:06 pm

Dutch online lingerie shop, also Europe’s biggest, conducted its own survey into who has the biggest boobs and the longest dongs per province, something to briefly take your mind off the fact that the Netherlands is not playing in the European Football Champs this summer.

Women in Zeeland have lots of cup A fans, but Utrecht takes the win for the smallest boobs overall. However, Zeeland has about 10% of women ordering cup F, which no other province has. The cup B fans come from Flevoland, the C cups are for Utrecht, D cups Overijssel, and most of the bigger sizes go to Groningen in the lead for Cup E.

If you believe in condoms sales as a size indicator, North Holland and Friesland buy the biggest condoms. Friesland stands out as a province that buys twice as many flavoured condoms as the rest of the country. I wonder if they’re orange flavoured.

(Link:, photo:

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September 21, 2015

Cancer patient dies building app for fellow patients

Filed under: Health,Science by Orangemaster @ 1:07 pm

Dutchman Frederik van den Broek who died last month of cancer was key in helping neurologists build MindApp, being dubbed as the world’s most advanced mobile-based app for cancer patients.

Available for Android and iPhone, MindApp will help users track and update appointments, manage their doctors and the quantities of pills they need to take, and much more.

Van den Broek said that he had received a printout from the hospital of all the appointments, medicine and information, but then lost the printout within an hour. “These things happen when you’ve lost a large part of your brain and your short-term memory has gone to pieces,” he explained.

According to neurologist Jaap Reijneveld of the Free University Medical Centre (VUMC) in Amsterdam involved in building the app, patients have a massively complicated treatment schedule, and this app will help them remember things and give constant feedback to doctors on the patient’s condition.

Find out more about what Van den Broek started MindApp in this video.


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August 8, 2015

Elderly Dutchman collects old dentures

Filed under: Health,Weird by Orangemaster @ 12:00 pm


Hans van Wijland, an elderly man from Enschede has an interesting yet odd hobby that is getting some summer press: he collects dentures. In his living room window he has a collection of some 117 dentures on display that makes some neighbours laugh and others disgusted. Knowing this full well, he once placed the dentures on a Christmas tree using lights.

Like many collectors, he didn’t just stop at dentures, he’s now branching out into used hearing aids, prosthetic legs and ocular prosthetics. He finds all his fake teeth at flea markets and cleans them thoroughly.

(Link:, Photo: Hans van Wijland’s Facebook page)

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July 23, 2015

Drugstore caught selling baby formula out the back

Filed under: Food & Drink,General,Health by Orangemaster @ 12:06 pm

The manager of a drugstore in Etten-Leur, Noord-Brabant was caught selling a pallet of baby formula out the back of the shop before the product hit the shelves. However, this apparently happens often around the country, as managers receive their bonuses based on their turnover rather than their margins. If they are always able to sell their pallets of formula in one go, it’s no surprise some of them will move product this way. Almost everyone in the Netherlands has noticed that baby formula can only be bought one or two tins at a time due to a constant shortage.

The media tends to blame the Chinese who buy up baby formula, but that’s only half the picture. The shortage is not caused by individual Chinese buying up units or even a pallet out the back, but mainly by Dutch producers of formula who can sell it at three times the Dutch price on Chinese websites where only a select handful of foreign companies are allowed to do business. According to the Telegraaf in 2013, Chinese resellers can make millions selling Dutch baby formula to the Chinese whether it comes directly from Dutch companies or Chinese selling it themselves. I’ve read that ambitious traders who buy pallets get the product into China through Hong Kong, even a few tins at a time if need be.

Sure, the Chinese can buy domestic formula, but since the scandals of 2008, expecting parents would rather buy quality foreign products, and big European companies know this all too well.

(Link:, Photo of a poster protesting Nutricia by Martijn van Exel, some rights reserved)

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July 22, 2015

Single women unlawfully excluded from IVF treatment

Filed under: Health,Science by Orangemaster @ 9:58 am


A survey conducted by women’s magazine ‘Opzij’ showed that single women are refused IVF treatment at 19 out of the 39 Dutch hospitals they researched, indicating discrimination. They are often told to go somewhere else with better facilities like a sperm bank or with counselling to avoid telling them flat out they won’t treat single women. The hospitals’ moral view is often that ‘a child should have two parents’, but it is illegal to refuse someone based on their single ‘lifestyle’. On the other hand, a history of abuse or addiction is a good reason to refuse treatment to someone.

Frank Broekmans of the Dutch association of gynaecologists and obstetrician says hospitals that refuse to perform IVF are not acting unlawfully because enough hospitals can cater to single women and it’s not necessary medical attention. He also believes a child is not well-served by having only one parent, but again, that’s discrimination even if it is a widely-held belief.

Bart Fauser of the UMC Utrecht hospital, the same hospital where Broekmans works and the most friendly towards single women looking for IVF treatment, says that there is no scientific proof that children of a single parent have a worse time of it. Once Fauser tried to screen a couple before an IVF treatment and he was heavily criticised, leading him to believe that couples always seem to have the right to decide what’s best for them, but not single women.

All I know is that Belgium has more IVF clinics, and like for many procedures including childbirth (if I can continue to believe the people around me), Dutch residents cross the border to get treated without the hassles they experience in the Netherlands.


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June 6, 2015

Dutch model too thin by British standards

Filed under: Fashion,Health,Photography by Orangemaster @ 12:23 pm

I read the article ‘Yves Saint Laurent advert banned for using ‘unhealthily underweight’ model’, but only when I read a Dutch article did I find out that the banned advert featured 18-year-old Dutch model Kiki Willems from Maastricht.

I can’t judge if she has a weight or eating disorder, but I can say that there are many tall, thin yet healthy Dutch girls and women around me that have diets ranging from strict vegan to burgers and fries.

According to a Limburg radio interview with a Vogue fashion expert Willem has been a ‘plank’ her whole life. And yes many Dutch people are apparently offended by the advert. Arguing that seeing super thin models sends a bad signal to girls is surely a valuable point, but it’s funny how with today’s trend of using bigger models nobody is pulling adverts saying that big models promote bad eating habits because that would be fat-shaming and assuming they eat poorly.

France has a specific BMI for models that can be circumvented if we believe the media, the UK has the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) monitoring adverts and the Netherlands to my knowledge has nothing but opinions.

(Links:, www.l1)

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May 29, 2015

Dutch kindergartens get sex education

Filed under: Health by Branko Collin @ 5:40 pm

10-jaar-lentekriebelsAmerican broadcaster PBS visited the Netherlands to take a look at Spring Fever, a week of sex education classes for children aged 4 to 12.

Eight-year-olds learn about self-image and gender stereotypes. Eleven-year-olds discuss sexual orientation and contraceptive options. But in the Netherlands, the approach, known as ‘comprehensive sex education,’ starts as early as age 4. You’ll never hear an explicit reference to sex in a kindergarten class. In fact, the term for what’s being taught here is sexuality education rather than sex education. That’s because the goal is bigger than that.

Younger children get taught about the differences between boys and girls, where babies come from, love, and boundaries. This year was the 10th anniversary of Spring Fever Week.

(Illustration: RutgersWPF)

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April 11, 2015

Dutch people may be tall because of natural selection

Filed under: Health,Nature by Branko Collin @ 2:46 pm

dutch-doors-metro-centricThe Dutch are among the tallest people in the world. According to the Guardian, Dutch men average a height of 1.84 metres and women a height of 1.71 metres.

Although no-one knows exactly why this is, it has long been held that health and well-being may have something to do with it.

Cue Gert Stulp, a 2-metre-tall Dutchman working at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who says the impressive rise of 20 centimetres in the past 150 years may have to do with natural selection. Writes Science:

[Stulp] and his colleagues turned to a database tracking key life data for almost 100,000 people in the country’s three northern provinces. The researchers included only people over 45 who were born in the Netherlands to Dutch-born parents. This way, they had a relatively accurate number of total children per subject (most people stop having children after 45) and they also avoided the effects of immigration.

In the remaining sample of 42,616 people, taller men had more children on average, despite the fact that they had their first child at a higher age. The effect was small—an extra 0.24 children at most for taller men—but highly significant. (Taller men also had a smaller chance of remaining childless, and a higher chance of having a partner). The same effect wasn’t seen in women, who had the highest reproductive success when they were of average height. The study suggests this may be because taller women had a smaller chance of finding a mate, while shorter women were at higher risk of losing a child.

The result is that if tall-making genes exist, they get passed onto the children of tall men.

See also: Why are the Dutch so tall?

(Photo by Metro Centric, some rights reserved)


April 6, 2015

Smart liquid wound dressing could trigger rapid healing

Filed under: Health,Science by Branko Collin @ 10:19 pm

gel-henningklevjerA two million euro grant could see professor Alan Rowan of Radboud University turn so-called super gel into a band-aid on steroids (figuratively, of course).

The Nijmegen-based professor of molecular chemistry accidentally discovered super gel in 2013 when his team put a jar of polymers in the fridge. Instead of gelling, the polymers dissolved completely into water, but when the researchers took the jar out of the fridge, the solution turned into a gel again.

According to Kennislink the super gel “acts the same as the extracellular matrix (ECM) in the human body. This matrix is a network of molecules connecting the cells, providing fibres with both support and elasticity. The most important constituents of ECM are the natural polymers collagen and fibrin.”

Companies from all over the world sent professor Rowan their ideas of what the new gel could be used for, from letting sports bras firm up when the wearer gets warmer to slowly releasing pesticides after they have been sprayed on plants. “Companies want a finished raw material, but we did not know anything about the gel. We needed to know whether we can guarantee the quality, whether the polymer is poisonous, how long it lasts and if the human body can digest it.”

The two million euro grant was one of five grants awarded by the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) on 5 February.

(Photo by Wikipedia user Henningklevjer, some rights reserved; link: Radboud University)

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