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Thanks to improved nutrition, the height of the average Japanese person has increased considerably since World War II. Nevertheless, many Japanese, especially those over a certain age, despair over what they believe is their short stature.

But if the Japanese on the whole seem to be less tall than the people in other countries of eastern Asia, it doesn’t necessarily have to do with genetics. In truth, almost 70 percent of the population of Japan has bowed legs to some degree. The reason, though, may have more to do with culture. The “proper” form of sitting and, for women, the “proper” form of walking (toes pointed slightly inward; small steps) can lead to bowed legs over time, which is probably why more older people than younger people have bowed legs.

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