The Changing Body And Increase In Height Of Japanese Women And Girls In The Last Century

Me: I wanted to focus this post on the changing form seen in the Japanese female over the last century. If we view the evolution of humans just from the perspective of height, we can guess at a reasonably accurate rate that humans have been getting healthier and living longer than at any other time in human history. From source link HERE

Changes in the physiques of Japanese women,       Much closer to their American sisters    —–     By T W Lim

Introduction. Every year since 1946, Japanese government, private sector companies and  foundations have carried out meticulous research of the Japanese physique and have discovered several startling statistics. Height, weight, susceptibility to cancer, female menstruation, and puberty  have been measured consistently. Japanese children now weigh as much as their adult counterparts (Weight loss surgery for children) after the WWII. Over a period of 10,000 years in Japanese history, from the study of archeological finds and records, Japanese had grown by only less than 10 cm . But within last 100 years, the record of last 10,000 years has been shattered. In the mid-1990s, Japanese girls experienced the biggest change at the primary school 6th grade level as they were taller than their postwar 1940s counterpart by nearly 16 cm.  As for female 7th graders, they are more than 12 kg heavier than their postwar 1940s counterpart.  Now, Japanese over 5 feet 7 inches or even 6 feet are very common.

One of the largest dietary change is probably consumption of milk. Not only has it made Japanese women grow taller, bigger and stronger but the consumption of milk has also advanced the age at which first menstruation happens in Japanese girls from 15 in 1950 to 12 years in 1975.  Only in the US has this record been somewhat matched and surpassed. Girls in the US are reaching puberty,  for example, as early as eight years old according to some reports and puberty is also accelerating though the national average is still about 12. This means that Japanese women have now reached the forefront of first world standards in female puberty. The implications need to be studied more.

In the same time period of 25 years after WWII, Japanese women have also grown more than 4 inches in height. Their weight increased by nearly 10 kg in the same period. Many scientists attribute this growth to the fact that Japanese consumption of dairy products now amounts to more than 50 kg per year, including cheese, milk, butter etc. Percentage of fat has also gone up with the intake of dairy products and that probably explains why Japanese women are now heavier.

American and Japanese researchers have identified over 50 hormones in milk that could possibly explain this phenomenon. The government and private sector has also played a key role in promoting milk,  making it readily available in offices, schools as well as vending machines in railway station. Hormones work in minute amounts and only a small tablespoon (or micrograms) of female hormones like estrogen or progesterone can produced a monumental effect on women’s growth.

Some researchers argue that there is a genetic potential for each race and that the Japanese are reaching their potential through improved diet but this is controversial and not readily proven. This is a controversial theory as it is not known if this so-called genetic potential may become a limiting factor on female growth in Japan. Would it be a genetic limitation such that Japanese women or indeed Asian women will never grow as large as Western women? Will the science of genetics or life sciences or biotechnology or genetically modified food in the future change this genetic potential? All questions remained unanswered.

Yet other researchers have gone beyond milk and look at soy proteins as a source of Japanese growth. These proteins consumed in larger amounts prevent menopausal problems but still promote proteins for growth. This finding is still controversial and it may be safer to say that Japanese are growing taller due to both intake of soy proteins as well as dairy products. There is evidence that even with the increase of soy proteins, there is a corresponding increase in animal proteins to more than 50 grams per day since 40 years ago. Studies have also shown that the soy proteins balance women’s hormones in Japan. These assertions of soy protein theory still need to be studied closely.

More Japanese women are also taking up aerobics, playing recreational sports like golf and strength sports like tennis, increasing their physique and musculature. More are training harder and earlier and Japanese educational sports programs are known to be rigorous and strict. In most other East Asian nations, women cannot afford the leisurely time to play such sports and have less time to exercise than Japanese women, especially in Asian countries which are barely surviving on their food supplies like India, Indonesia which are seeing a large part of their populations starving.

Some in the West wondered how Japanese women who are constrained to small spaces in Japan can grow big and tall suddenly. Wealth has also overcome Japanese space constraints as more and more Japanese women go to ultra-modern gyms and sports clubs to train their muscles. Taut, veined athletic muscles are no longer frowned upon in the Japanese fashion world thanks to fitness trends in the US, a source of Japanese emulation.There are other more minor theories like Japanese moves from sitting on the floor to sitting on chairs, have improved their postures and musculatures accounting for the height and weight increase. Removal of infectious diseases, wealth and better quality of living as well as Japanese infatuation with disinfectant may also be promoting Japanese growth, size and longevity. Other less scientific assertions include more sleep for Japanese improving their metabolism rates. Others have attributed the growth to the many calorie-, vitamins- and minerals-enhanced food and drinks available from vending machines which youngsters drink on their way to night prep schools in place of dinner due to time constraints.

Besides diet, some Japanese researchers and scientists say increase may also be due to Japanese industrial economy producing large amounts of chemical byproducts that are artificially increasing the sizes of women. Dioxins and polystyrenes have been identified by some as chemical substances that may enlarge and extend Japanese female body sizes. They are hormone effectors that have been found in Japanese soil, river and seas. These substances in Japan have been blamed for low sperm counts and making men develop feminine characteristics. Synthetic estrogens have already caused changes in fish and frogs in the rivers.

Finally, some of these changes in Japanese female physique may also be due to Japan’s state intervention. Some schools for example have their kids or encourage their kids to taking vitamins pills in specially prescribed boxes during lunchtime or have arranged volumes of milk or dairy products to promote growth. Others have prescribed rest time to manage youngsters’ metabolic rates. Schools strictly monitor young children’s diet (Weight loss surgery for children) with regular school inspections of what mothers put in their bento or lunch boxes. They regularly prescribe diets with calorie intakes provided for the parents. Parents also have been educated more through the media and during parent-teacher meetings diets are often discussed to standardize growth promoter diet for Japanese children.

Psychological Factors.

Psychologically, Japanese who are afraid that they will stick out because of their height or find it difficult to marry no longer feel like that. Tall women are increasingly envied. In fact, they are so admired that at one time, many Japanese women wear high heel or platform shoes to make themselves look taller, even to the extent of towering over their boyfriends who now have to live with such fashion.

Another psychological factor studied by some social science and psychology researchers in Japan is the growing assertiveness of Japanese women. They are becoming more aggressive and independent compared to their traditional demure image. It is not known if this is due to biological factors. But women are seen as stronger in careers and personalities. Could chemical compounds be responsible for this change?

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