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Anthropometry is the standardized measurement method for the human body so that the measurements taken by different measurers are comparable.
Secular change in Japan

The "secular change" refers to the phenomenon that the physical characteristics of the human body changes in a long period of time compared to the human longevity. The most well observed secular change is that of the stature. In many countries in the world, stature has been increasing in last 100 years.

Figure 1 shows the changes in the mean stature of adult male Japanese in Kanto region from Jomon Period (until about 300 BC) to present. The mean stature decreased since the Kofun period (250 AD to 538 AD), and was the lowest at the end of Edo period (1603 - 1867). Since then, it increased very rapidly.

The rapid secular changes have also been observed in European countries, and there is evidence that the secular change has ceased in the Netherlands and North European countries.

Since the pattern of secular change in stature follows that of environmental factors relating to the nutritional status, the main cause is considered to be environmental rather than genetic.

Figure 1. Secular change in the stature of adult male Japanese
Figure 1. Secular change in the stature of adult male Japanese

Period of large, inter-generation differences

Figure 2 shows the relation between the birth year and the mean stature at 20 years of age. The mean stature of Japanese has increased more than 10 cm in the last 100 years. The rate of increase was especially high for the generation born in the 1940s and became very low for the generation born in the 1970s.

The inter-generation differences in stature are partly due to aging, but the older generation was shorter than the younger generation even when they were young adults. At present, shorter women born in the 1920s and taller men born in the 1980s live together, and the individual differences in height are very large.

Figure 2.  Relation between the year of birth and average stature
Figure 2. Relation between the year of birth and average stature at 20 years of age based on Japanese government statistics.

Japanese data measured in the 1990s

If you use the anthropometric data for designing purposes, the data must represent your target population. If the data you have was measured several decades ago, it may not represent the young adults at present due to the rapid secular change in height.

A large scale anthropometric survey is seldom conducted in Japan. Anthropometric data measured in the 1990s are shown here.

(1)Japanese Body dimensions Data 1997-98

Organization conducted the survey: National Institute of Bioscience and Human-Technology and National Institute of Technology and Evaluation
Year of measurement: 1997-1998
Subjects: Young adult Japanese (about 100 males and about 100 females), older Japanese aged 60 years and over (50 males and 50 females)
Measurement items: 48 measurement items (by traditional method).

Available data: Individual data is available from Digital Human Laboratory (free). Click here for more information.

Organization conducted the survey: Industrial Product Research Institute
Year of measurement: 1991-1992
Subjects: Young adult Japanese (216 males and about 204 females), older Japanese aged 60 years and over (50 males and 50 females)
Measurement items: 251 measurement items for males and 254 items for females (by traditional method).

Availability: Statistical data was published in 1994 as Technical Report from National Institute of Bioscience and Human-Technology. In 1996, it was published by Nippon Shuppan service but is now out of print (ISBN4-88922-093-3 C3040 P4635E) (4,635 yen including tax). It is written in Japanese, but the tables of statistic data are also written in English. The text and individual data is available from AIST Website.

Click here to see the database.

related page:http://staff.aist.go.jp/yamashita-juli/projects/DatabaseForED.html

(3) Japanese Body Size Data 1992-1994

Organization conducted the survey: Research Institute of Human Engineering for Quality Life (HQL)
Year of measurement: 1992-1994
Subjects: Japanese aged from 7 to 90 years (about 19,000 males and 15,000 females).
Measurement items: 178 measurement items (some were measured by the traditional method, and others calculated from the 3D scanned data. Comparability of the measurements obtained by the 2 methods was not examined)

Available data: Statistical data was published by HQL (38,000 yen + 5% tax). Individual data is also available from HQL. See http://www.hql.or.jp/ for more information.

Body Dimensions Data of People from Other Countries
Statistics values of non-Japanese body dimension data are quoted in books. The latest body dimensions data from around the world is complied in a series of brochures called ADULTDATA, OLDERADULTDATA, and CHILDATA, which are distributed by the British government.
http://www.system-concepts.com/ETC/dtidata.htm
In traditional anthropometry, so called "Martin-type" instruments are used.
Representativeness of Samples and National Data
When conducting an anthropometric survey, implementing a complete count survey on a target group is impossible. Random sampling is also impossible, in practice.
In order to decide if the subject group of the survey appropriately represents the estimated user group, it is compared against a random sampling of data from Japanese people of a corresponding age. Such information is available in the Report of the Physical Fitness Test by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT) (available at MEXT library), and also in the Reports of The National Nutrition Survey in Japan (published annually) by Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan.
Statistical data of Japanese body size by Japanese Government
(1) Reports of the School Health Survey(ISBN4-17-153076-8 C0037)
Survey:
The survey has been conduced annualy, and the report is published annualy by the Ministry of Education,Culture, Sports, Science and Technology since 1900.
Measuement items:
Height, weight, chest circumference (until 1994), and sitting height
Age range of the subjects:
5-17 years (1971-)
(2) Reports of the National Nutritional Survey (ISBN4-8041-0961-7 3077)
Survey:
The survey is conducted annualy, and the report is published annualy by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare since 1947.
Measuement items:
Height, weight, triceps skinfold thickness, and subscapular skinfold thickness
Age range of the subjects:
1-80+