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Japan's average adult height declining for those born in 1980 or later

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So, they have determined the connection between height and smaller babies, but haven’t done anything to investigating why babies are getting smaller? The fact that babies are getting smaller should be much more concerning than a drop in average height.

3 ( +13 / -10 )

i was premature but I tower above most Japanese.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

So, they have determined the connection between height and smaller babies, but haven’t done anything to investigating why babies are getting smaller? The fact that babies are getting smaller should be much more concerning than a drop in average height.

That would seem to be the next logical step after they figure out that babies are actually getting smaller. You know, like they are reporting they just figured out in this article.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

So, they have determined the connection between height and smaller babies, but haven’t done anything to investigating why babies are getting smaller? The fact that babies are getting smaller should be much more concerning than a drop in average height.

That would seem to be the next logical step after they figure out that babies are actually getting smaller. You know, like they are reporting they just figured out in this article.

We already know why. Doctors here bully pregnant women into gaining very little weight so they give birth to smaller babies...

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2010/11/03/national/dieting-moms-babies-underweight/#.WoIbAHCRWEd

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Maybe the babies are getting smaller because adults are beginning to eat healthy Japanese food again instead of shovelling US Fast Food crap down their throats.

-23 ( +4 / -27 )

but haven’t done anything to investigating why babies are getting smaller?

That may be because its something that other people have already described and studied, Decrease of BMI and increase in smoking rates in women of reproductive age are the most likely factors for the trend.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Pregnant women here are berated if they gain a gram more than they are told they should. Babies are malnourished in the womb.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

My wife was told off for gaining too much weight one week, which scared her into controlling her portion sizes (despite my protests). Next thing you know she is being berated for not gaining enough weight (on the following weeks). They have a razor thin range of healthy weight gain recommendations and are threatened with all sorts of problems if they go outside of that.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

As JB & Luddite alluded to.

Doctors almost bully pregnant women if they gain more than a miniscule in "excess" weight during their terms.

And this is on top of a society which celebrates thinness (skinny) as being the ideal for women. Unfortunately many fall under this spell, and consequently you have a "set menu" for light-weight babies.

I can never understand this obsession with the "skeletal" look.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Too much carbohydrates, not enough protein.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I'm not buying this study. Most of my unversity students are around my hieght, 5'11". Maybe this guy should stop measuring the legs only.

-14 ( +1 / -15 )

a simple answer could be the advancement of NICU. doctors are able to save more babies who are born premature.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Is that necessarily bad though? Is the end goal to create humans who are monstrously tall and fat? Obesity should be countered at every opportunity and I'm incredibly glad Japan is not monstrously overweight like in America. If American heights and weights is what is being aimed for here, then this article sheds some really good news

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Maybe the babies are getting smaller because adults are beginning to eat healthy Japanese food again instead of shovelling US Fast Food crap down their throats.

So, then according to your logic folks prior to 1980 were pigging out on US Food and getting taller?

You gotta know that fast food and convenience stores here have been on a boom since the turn of the century, and more and more kids are getting fatter, due to diet and less exercise. The "healthy" Japanese diet is not the reason, because folks are not eating it!

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Pregnant women here are berated if they gain a gram more than they are told they should. Babies are malnourished in the womb.

And subsequently all through their childhood also...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The government's fitness checks have shown kids getting weaker for many years, but this is the first time I've heard them not getting taller any more.

As others have said, there should be no pressure on pregnant women to limit their weight gain. Having a child basically kills many women in Japan's careers anyway, so there is even less reason for them to diet. You can fight to stay slim, to the potential detriment of your child, but employers will still see you as okaasan.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

From my experience, just a couple years ago, since my baby is about 2 1/2 years old now. 

I kept worrying my wife was not eating enough food for herself and the baby. I told her that she use to eat more before she was pregnant. Her response was that whenever she went to see the doctor, he said she was gaining too much weight. She would have a difficult birth if the baby got too big, so she was eating too much. I thought what the Japanese doctor was telling my wife was crazy. I told her I would go in with her and sort this thing out, but she said no way she would let me talk to the doctor with my not so good Japanese speaking ability. And I vaguely remember her telling me the doctor wanted the baby to be 2500 grams or less when born. Anyway, I am assuming that's what Japanese doctors are telling other pregnant women in Japan.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

There's some alarming evidence regarding widespread global Vitamin D deficiencies, especially in the Northern hemisphere. How much sun do people get these days? Add that to generations of women covering up head to toe to avoid getting any rays and you may have one of the causes. Its strongly linked with bone development and density among other things. Get your sun people, or take supplements. Its a game changer.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Maybe the babies are getting smaller because adults are beginning to eat healthy Japanese food again instead of shovelling US Fast Food crap down their throats.

I agree. Somehow America is to blame

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

When I was frequenting the antenatal clinics in the 1980s, other mothers were very stressed out about gaining weight. Part of it was that they didn't want to struggle taking it off again after the birth, and part of it was a deliberate attempt to have a small baby in the hopes of making the birth itself easier. And as sensei relates, the doctors are also in on this. 2500g is tiny.

As I ballooned and ballooned, mothers and doctors tut-tutted and told me it was wise to 小さく産んで、大きく育てる (birth it small and raise it big). It seems that if you birth 'em small, they stay small?

That said, both of mine were a good weight (4000g+) (and very easy to look after as babies), yet as adults neither of them are towering giants: around average, or maybe slightly taller than their peers. Then again, neither side of the family has any particularly tall members.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Best thing my wife and I did when we had a baby in Japan: We told the doctors that we weren't going to put up with their nonsense. And since his birth, my son's been routinely mistaken for a child older than he is, as he's usually taller than children a year or two older than he is.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Yes my wife was also told she was too fat when she was pregnant, both times, which really worried her during the first one and she ignored during the second. Both our babies were born between 3.5 and 4kgs, perfectly healthy and all around there were these tiny feeble babies coming out 2-2.5kgs. Seriously, many women here aren't even showing their pregnancy until they're very close to dropping and I really do think the doctors are advising them incorrectly on this but what do I know!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Curious discovery; hard to determine the actual cause on this for the moment it seems.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

that's what happens when you don't eat meat or drink your milk

0 ( +3 / -3 )

This is a global trend has nothing to do with Japanese doctors. Check the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration from the US which shows that average male height in the US stopped increasing for those born after 1980.

So what happened around that time that is causing people not to grow taller anymore? I have no idea.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Nothing to do with imported US meat having growth hormones in it then? Have the Japanese banned growth hormone in meat? Just guessing :)

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

There seems to be a lot of comments of bad Japanese doctors and untrained foreigners who know better, but my wife followed her Japanese doctors advice closely and gave birth to a perfectly healthy child who weighed just over 3000 grams if I remember correctly.

By the way, it is not healthy for the pregnant mother to go wild and eat whatever she wants and to gain as much weight as possible.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

And here I thought I was getting taller.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My initial response is a shrug. The article is talking about fractions of a cm difference. Japanese children generally speaking continue to be well-fed and healthy. There's no suggestion they're moving towards being even partly malnourished. So I'm not sure how this is terribly important or interesting.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It isn't clear whether the average weight at birth has dropped, just that the proportion that weigh less than 2,500 grams has increased. There could be a number of reasons.

If the number of children per mother has dropped over the period, there would presumably a bigger proportion of first child births in the later group. There are studies that show the weight of second-borns is higher on average than first-borns.

Also, if the rate of cesarian births increased over the period, I think it is likely to show a small reduction in average birth weight.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

i was premature but I tower above most Japanese. same here I was 1 month premature and very underweight, now over 6ft/ 185cm, my grandfather was 196cm also premature

0 ( +2 / -2 )

My 2nd son was delivered close to a month early, on the advice of our American doctor here in Japan. The last month of the pregnancy babies tend to gain quite a bit and the doctor was worried that our son was going to top out at close to or over 6000g.

We had labor induced, and my wife delivered our boy, over 4500g. He is now soon to be 19 and is close to 190cm, Mom is a "tiny" 152 or so, but Dad is 193 and some change, and 1st son is close to 190cm too and he was close to 4500g as well.

My wife loves living in her "man-forest"!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

People breath in chemicals all the time which is detrimental to fetus development leading to babies weighing less at birth and being stunted as they reach adulthood.

Premies too are generally smaller. Women devouring everything in site has nothing to do with it.

Vitamin D has nothing to do with it.

Bad food maybe.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I can never understand this obsession with the "skeletal" look.

I think it’s genetic and natural. The majority having the same frames as the boys...ironing boards.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Bad food maybe.

This is quite baseless as much as some people going totally ridiculous by accusing US bad eating culture to have anything to do with low-birth-weight infants and Japanese adult decrease height.

One of the main cause for this has been identified already years ago and it is believed to be linked to the problems of underweight in young females and pregnant women in Japan. See this study daring back to 2010

https://www.med.or.jp/english/journal/pdf/2010_05/285_289.pdf

And actually anyone living in Japan long enough can see this issue of underweight amoung Japanese women at any age. They are awfully underweight and not slim as some foreigners falsely describe them, often because they come form countries where obesity is high.

The result of this widespread underweight amoung Japanese women make them not only poorly fit for making children with better birth weight, but this also the cause for different kind of health problems like loss of bone mass. On top of that, they are weak, they age more rapidly and look very unfeminine after they cross their 40s.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@ wtfjapan

In my country you’re just an average boy with 185 cm :)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@ daiko_hak

Who cares if foreigners see Japanese women as slim or underweight.

For years they lead the list for highest life expactancy and more important the list for number of years in good health.

The Japanese may not be, in general, the most beautiful people on the globe but that J women age faster compared to Caucasian women of the same income class is just based on a biased view by some expat.

Perhaps it’s time to go home for a refreshed look :)

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Pregnant women here are berated if they gain a gram more than they are told they should. Babies are malnourished in the womb.

What Japan are you guys living in? ... My wife's sister put on 12kgs when pregnant with her daughter, and my wife put in 16kgs when pregnant with our son, and she has only lost 7 kgs since his birth 4 years ago, and no one has said a thing. My wife is 165 cm and was 46kgs now she is 55kgs and we are trying for our second child now and the doctors have not said a thing about the extra 9kgs my wife is carrying, and she was not thin at 46kgs, she had an athletic body, now she has a bit of a stomach and love handles. All the males in my family are 190+cm and as all former military are all fit as bulls, me I am the smallest in the family at only 172cm and that is because my mother was a smoker, my son is 4 in August and he is already about 5cm taller then the 6 year olds in his school, and even though he eats like a horse, he is thin as a rake, the little bugger eats more then I do. I think you guys need to stop looking at Japanese thought the eyes of a population of obese people.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

it is not healthy for the pregnant mother to go wild and eat whatever she wants and to gain as much weight as possible

? Did anyone say it was?

My wife is 165 cm and was 46kgs now she is 55kgs and we are trying for our second child now and the doctors have not said a thing about the extra 9kgs my wife is carrying, and she was not thin at 46kgs

46kg with a height of 165cm gives your wife a BMI of a little less than 17 - underweight. At 55kg, she has a BMI of 20, which is normal. That's why the doctors have not said anything about the 'extra' 9kg.

The 'bit of a stomach' comes from having been blown up like a balloon for 9 months and then rapidly deflated, not from extra weight.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

same time as the amount of vaccinations sharply increased.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

46kg with a height of 165cm gives your wife a BMI of a little less than 17 - underweight. At 55kg, she has a BMI of 20, which is normal. That's why the doctors have not said anything about the 'extra' 9kg.

Japan's BMI is very different from what you have in the west .. Japan's BMI at 25 is obese, when in the west its only overweight ... The wife at 46kg was toned as she worked out, she was not underweight, she had a lovely set of abs, now you can not see them because of fat.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Japan's BMI is very different from what you have in the west ..

I thought you might have something there, so I tried googling BMI計算in Japanese.

The first site that came up - https://bodymakeup.jp/bmi-women - gives the standard BMI for Japanese women as between 18.5 and 25. Over 25 is overweight, under 18.5 is underweight. It also gives a proviso that the standard is set with regards to health, not fashion; ladies who want to be fashionably slim should aim for around 19 and not dip any lower than 18.5.

So even using the Japanese standard, with a BMI of under 17 your wife was seriously underweight. With a BMI of 20, she's more or less in the middle of the standard, a good, healthy weight. She is not fat.

And if she's running around after a four-year-old, she's getting plenty of exercise.

Good luck with creating the second junior!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

BMI are a guideline and not 100% accurate for 100% of the people.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

West

Category BMI (kg/m2)

Very severely underweight 15

Severely underweight 15 to 16

Underweight 16 to 18.5

Normal 18.5 to 24.9

Overweight 25.0 to 30

Obese Class I (Moderately obese)30 to 34.9

Obese Class II (Severely obese)35.0 to 39.9

Obese Class III (Very severely obese) 40

Japan

Category BMI (kg/m2)

Low 18.5

Normal 18.5 to 25

Obese (Level 1) 25 to 30

Obese (Level 2) 30 to 35

Obese (Level 3) 35 to 40

Obese (Level 4) 40

It's important to note that a BMI score isn't a hard rule about what a person should weigh, it's just an educated guess, BMI has one major drawback--it doesn't take into account how much of your weight is muscle and how much of your weight is fat. I was doing bodybuilding, karate, aikido, iaido, and kenjutsu, had only about 4% body fat and was a BMI of 27 which makes me overweight in the west and obese in Japan ... Most of the Japanese females I know are all about 165cm and most are between 43kgs to 48kgs and all eat double what I eat, they all have lean muscle, about 3% body fat.

Japanese Chubby Degree

http://rachelandjun.blogspot.jp/2014/01/r-chubby-chart-poll.html

20% to 40% is where most Japanese females are. The average BMI for Japanese females is 20 which is pretty thin compared to females in say the USA who are 27.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

BMI are a guideline and not 100% accurate for 100% of the people.

True. It tends to mark very muscular people as overweight, since muscle weighs more than fat; a 6ft tall athlete weighing 90kg, BMI 26, is in much better shape than a couch potato of the same height and weight and therefore the same BMI, whose fat gives him a much greater girth than the athlete.

There are also those who say that BMI tends to make tall people think they are fatter than they actually are, and short people think they are thinner than they are.

Whichever way you look at it, a muscular woman with a BMI of less than 17 is underweight. A young, active woman with a BMI of 20 is doing OK, is much better able to cope with a pregnancy, and doesn't need her husband complaining about how 'fat' she is.

The average BMI for Japanese females is 20 which is pretty thin

Thank you. You've just admitted your wife is average/pretty thin, so stop complaining about the fat!

they all have lean muscle, about 3% body fat.

You must have your decimal point in the wrong place. Healthy women have 21 to 33% body fat. A healthy, muscular man may have as little as 8%, but women's bodies are different and need more. Especially of you're trying for a baby, bear in mind that body fat plays a part in ovulation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Could it be related to lack of sleep?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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