|Master of Science (Qualifying)||1999|
|The Changing Size and Shape of Australian Women|
|Kathleen M. Berry|
|Department Anatomical Sciences
University of Adelaide
Secular trends in body size and shape of Australian women have been investigated. Biological characteristics of the human body size and shape have over the centuries undergone a number of clearly visible changes. These changes do not necessarily occur in any one direction and may differ from country to country. This study compares the data obtained by measuring the size and shape of 100 Australian women with those reported previously on the same parameters. The data from these studies are compared to present day data, used in the clothing design and production industry. Up to the present time no scientific anthropometric survey has been conducted for Clothing Standards in Australia. The current Australian Standard sizing system, for Womens garments is based on outdated United States data.
Anthropometry as a science provides the quantitative tool for describing the size and shape of the body. Associated with anthropometry is typology, which as a classificatory system, has over the centuries been used to classify the shape and physique of the human body. Various systems of typology are discussed.
Three body measurements were extracted from a larger study of female participants aged between 18 and 74 years. A sample of 100 women in the selected age group and varying socio-economic status took place in the survey. Anthropometric techniques were applied in the data collection. The participants wore close fitting cotton stretch vests over their own undergarments.
Body Mass Index and the newly formed Conicity Index, was used in the study to estimate degrees of fatness and weight increase. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (1998) classifications of Body Mass Index categories were used. It was found that the Body Mass Index of the average participant fell within the upper end of the acceptable weight classification. A system of rating the Conicity Index values (Muller et al. 1996) was used to assess body fat distribution of participants. It was found that the value of conicity for the average women exceeded the recommended value.
An analysis of Australian, American and British data showed a small increase in height whereas there was a significant increase in weight.
The present Australian Standard size-coding scheme for womens garments is outdated, and this contributes to the inconsistencies in the sizing system used in the production of womens garments in Australia. It would appear that the size and shape of Australian women is changing. An anthropometric survey of the Australian population is required to ascertain the present size and shape of the population.
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