Stature is a Net Measure that Captures the Supply of Inputs to Health

Author by: Hiroshi Mori “Stature is a Net Measure that Captures the Supply of Inputs to Health” (1: Steckel, 1995, P. 1903). Japa...

Author by: Hiroshi Mori

“Stature is a Net Measure that Captures the Supply of Inputs to Health” (1: Steckel, 1995, P. 1903).

Japan’s economy recovered from the WWII devastations by the mid-1950s and made rapid and steady progress toward the end of the 20th century. Children grew remarkably taller in height, approximately 10 cm for high school seniors, either boys or girls, by the late 1980s. Children at all ages ceased to grow any taller since then, despite the appreciable increase in the supply of animal sourced products, meat and milk, toward the 21st century.

South Korea, the next-door neighbor, was two decades behind Japan in the post-war economic development, largely due to the Korean war, 1950-53. Children in Korea have been growing taller steadily since the mid-1960s but were still 2-3 cm shorter than their Japanese peers in the 1960-70s, and slightly shorter in the 1980s. They matched their Japanese peers in height in the 1990s and then Korean teens outgrew Japanese teens by 3 cm in the mid-2000s. Then they suddenly ceased to grow any taller afterwards. In terms of real GDP, the Korean economy has almost doubled in the past decade and half and accordingly animal sourced-food products increased in supply appreciably. 

In the midst of the booming economy, Japanese children ceased to grow any taller in the late-1980s and Korean children followed suit in the mid-2000s. Did either of them attain their genetic potentials? Little analysis is of this question is available.  There exist, however, a few case studies of South East Asian immigrants in Nordic countries in which children tend to grow closer in final height to the native residents, the younger their age at the time of immigration (2: den Berb, 2011). 

For decades, children in Japan have steered away from fruit and vegetables in their at-home food consumption (3: The 1994 White Paper on Agriculture). The author and his colleagues intensively analyzed changes in at-home consumption of various food products by age and cohort in the past few decades, using refined econometric models (4: Declining Orange Consumption, USDA, 2009; 5: Structural changes in food consumption, 2020). The author began to suspect that continually dropping consumption of fruit and vegetables by growing children in Japan in the past few decades should have something to do with the observed end of further growth in height, in comparison with their Korean peers in the 1990s to the mid-2000s (5: Chapters 9-10, Structural changes). 

With the raw data, Korea Household Expenditures, classified by age of household head, 1990 to 2016, provided by S. Kim, KREI, the author discovered only a few months ago, that Korean children in their growing ages under 20 started to steer away drastically from vegetable and fruit in their at-home consumption, beginning in the mid-2000s. Korean children in their adolescence on average are estimated to eat nearly 15% of the quantity of vegetables eaten by older adults in their 50s ate in the mid-2010s. The author suspects that this could explain why Korean teens suddenly ceased to grow any taller in height in the mid-2000s (7: Food and Nutrition, July, 2020). 

[1] Steckel, Richard H.(1995) Stature and standard of living, J Economic Literature, VVVIII, 1903-40.
[2] Gerald van den Berg et al., (2011) Critical period during childhood and adolescence: a study of adult height among immigrant siblings, Working Paper 2011. 5, Inst for Labor Market Policy Evaluation, 1-39.
[3] Japanese government, Ministry of Agriculture (1995) White Paper on Agriculture-1994.
[4] Mori, H., K. Ishibashi, D. Clason et al. (2009) Declining Orange Consumption in Japan: Generational Changes or Something Else? Economic Research Report # 71, USDA, 1-23. 
[5] Mori, Hiroshi (2020) Structural changes in food consumption and human height in East Asia, Lambert Academic Publishing, Berlin, 1-156.
[6] Republic of Korea government. Household Expenditure Survey, various issues. 
[7] Mori, Hiroshi (2020) Comparative analyses of height growth velocities of school boys in South Korea and Japan, Food and Nutrition Sciences, 2020, 11, 1-10.

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Global Journals | Medical Innovations & Stories Blog: Stature is a Net Measure that Captures the Supply of Inputs to Health
Stature is a Net Measure that Captures the Supply of Inputs to Health
Global Journals | Medical Innovations & Stories Blog
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