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date: 19 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Body mass index, weight, and stature are reliable indicators of biological living standards. Although most studies in anthropometric history focus on Western nations, East Asian countries are of great interest as well because one-fifth of the world’s population lives in this region. This chapter reviews studies that focus on the anthropometric history of China, Japan, and Korea. Although the anthropometric measurements of contemporary urban Chinese equal those of Japan and South Korea, its rural population lags far behind. However, their anthropometric status is superior to that of North Korea, which has the worst economic performance in East Asia. Differences between the two Koreas cannot be explained by genetic predispositions alone. Japan’s anthropometrics have not matched its increasing economic power, but the quantity and quality of food intake in Japan differs from that of the rest of East Asia, suggesting that differences in food culture may account for these variations.

Keywords: anthropometric history, economic history, social history, China, Japan, Korea, weight, body mass index, gross domestic product, nutrition

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