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Survey to update 27-year-old Chinese anthropometric data


BEIJING, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- After 27 years of fast economic growth and changing lifestyles, has the average Chinese man's waistline got bigger? A national survey is about to find the answer.

The China National Institute of Standardization is preparing for a national anthropometric survey to examine changes in the measurements of average Chinese since the last such survey in 1986, confirmed Zhao Chaoyi, director of the institute's anthropometry lab, in an interview with Xinhua on Monday.

The survey will take about five years, targeting Chinese citizens aged between 18 and 75 and sampling about 20,000 people in six sampling areas with a nationwide geographical spread.

Since the Chinese government approved the survey in June, the institute has been working on a detailed plan for the work and expects to start sampling in the latter half of 2014, Zhao said.

The institute did an anthropometric survey of a smaller scale on 3,000 sampled Chinese in 2009, when it found that the measurements of ordinary Chinese have changed a great deal since the last national survey.

According to the 2009 research, the average weight of Chinese aged above 35 had notably increased and the average waistline of an adult man had grown by 5 cm since 1986, said Zhang Xin, an assistant research fellow with the institute.

The updated research will help inform industrial designs from cars to smartphones.

"All current industrial designs are based on the figures in 1986, which are obviously outdated," Zhang said.

Besides recording people's basic measurements as the last survey did, researchers will also collect data on muscle strength, visual and hearing acuity, and fingertip tactility this time.

"Many new products have been invented and introduced into Chinese people's lives in the past three decades. The industry has demanded new data," Zhao noted.

For instance, data about fingertip tactility is very much needed since touch screens have become widely used in mobile phones and computers, the senior researcher said.

An increasing number of Chinese are driving cars so the auto industry needs data about muscle strength to adjust gas pedals.

"Accurate anthropometric data can make products user-friendly. We can import technologies and device from foreign countries, but it is Chinese who use them. Only domestic anthropometric data can help," Zhao said.

In the last survey in 1986, researchers worked with rulers and band tapes. This time they will apply 3D human body scanners.

Chinese researchers have been lobbying for anthropometric data to be updated as regularly as every five to 10 years.


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