The truth about body sizes ISO compiles people measurements from around the world

With changing standards of living, the body dimensions of people have been increasing in many countries over the last few decades. To ensure that clothing, workplaces, transportation, homes, and recreational activities match today's body sizes comfortably and safely, ISO has published a report compiling up-to-date anthropometric data (human body measurements across populations).

The report, Basic human body measurements for technological design – Part 2: Statistical summaries of body measurements from individual ISO populations ISO/TR 7250-2:2010, is the second part of a series on body measurements.

ISO/TR 7250-2:2010 seeks to identify physical variations in human body sizes and shapes around the world so that manufacturers can have a realistic view of today's population diversity and optimise technological design accordingly.

The report says that while the average height and weight of an American man are respectively 1.76 m and 80 kg, those of the average Thai man are 1.67 m and 64 kg. And that an average Dutch woman measures 1.67 m and weighs 72 kg, while an average Japanese woman measures 1.57 m and weighs 51 kg.

Dr. Makiko Kouchi, Project Leader of ISO/TR 7250, explains, 'inadequate measures in products and environments compromise our health by putting unnecessary strain on our bodies. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to sit in a chair that is too tight, or to find it difficult to reach the products in a supermarket? Harmonising our surroundings to our body size, shape, and capability by applying ergonomic principles is key to ensuring our well-being'.

ISO/TR 7250-2:2010 provides updated country-specific body size data. The report focuses on working age people within 'ISO populations' (countries whose national standards institute is a member of ISO). It features key statistics for ergonomic design such as body mass, stature, eye height, chest depth, hip breadth, and so on, in both standing and sitting positions. The measurements used as a basis are described in detail in the first part of the series, ISO/TR 7250-1:2008.

ISO/TR 7250-2:2010 aims to become a reference for the various ISO product Standards, so that their ergonomic accuracy can be further improved. The report is intended as a repository of the most current anthropometric data by country, which will be updated as new statistics become available. The report currently includes information from Austria, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Thailand, and the USA.

'We developed ISO/TR 7250-2 with the principle of “equity” in mind', says Dr Kouchi. 'More often than not, products are designed in a mass production basis which ignores human variation. The report will help manufacturers to better gear their products to their target customers, taking into account the considerable differences in body shapes and sizes that can exist. This will ensure that products respect the ergonomic needs of their populations, and that no size is 'discriminated against no matter how big or small', she concludes.

The ISO/TR ISO 7250 series was prepared by technical committee ISO/TC 159 'Ergonomics' subcommittee SC 3 'Anthropometry and biomechanics'.

Summarised from ISO media release 6 April 2010.

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