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The Decline in BMI among Japanese Women after WWII


  • Maruyama, S.
  • Nakamura, S.


The age-specific body mass index (BMI) of adult Japanese women has steadily decreased over time, while that of Japanese men has increased. This study examines the long-term trend of age-specific BMI in Japan, by combining unique historical data sets and conducting nonparametric regression analysis. We find that the decline in female BMI is a cohort-specific phenomenon with women born in the 1930s having the highest BMI. However, the age-specific BMI of young girls has continuously increased throughout the 20th century. We conclude that the BMI decline can be traced back to females in their late teen years shortly after WWII.

Suggested Citation

  • Maruyama, S. & Nakamura, S., 2013. "The Decline in BMI among Japanese Women after WWII," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 13/35, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  • Handle: RePEc:yor:hectdg:13/35

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    More about this item


    Body Mass Index; Underweight; Cohort analysis; Secular trend; Japan; Locally Weighted Regression;

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • N35 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Asia including Middle East


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