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Secular Changes in Child Height in Japan and South Korea: Consumption of Animal Proteins and “Essential Nutrients”

DOI: 10.4236/fns.2018.912106, PP. 1458-1471

Keywords: Height, Animal Proteins, Fruit and Vegetables, Japan, South Korea

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Child height in Japan and South Korea increased dramatically over the past half century. At age 17 - 18 years, male students in Japan were 2 cm taller in the 1960s through 1970s, still barely taller in the 1980s than S. Korean students, but by the early 1990s they ceased to grow any taller in height, whereas their Korean peers kept increasing in height to overtake their Japanese peers by 3 cm in the mid-2000s. Economic growth was rapid in both countries, but S. Korea some two decades behind Japan. Per capita GDP in Japan was four times that in S. Korea in the mid-1980s and twice in the early-2000s. Food consumption increased conspicuously in both countries, with per capita net supply of animal products in Japan noticeably exceeding that in S. Korea in the early-2000s. However, per capita total caloric intake has been a few hundred kcal/day greater in S. Korea than in Japan since the end of 1970s, mainly from cereals. In particular, S. Koreans have consumed nearly twice as many vegetables as Japanese after the early 1980s. What may deserve attention is that Japanese youth, as compared to their older generations, drastically reduced their consumption of fruit and vegetables in the mid-1970s, whereas their S. Korean counterparts have maintained their consumption of these produce. These contrasts in food consumption patterns may have contributed to the differences in child height development in the two countries.


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