British feet are getting bigger

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It is not only human waistlines that are becoming wider – our feet are becoming bigger as well. The average British foot has now become two sizes larger than during the 1970s.

New figures have shown that in the past 4 decades, the average male foot has increased from a size eight to a size 10. The average female’s foot has increased from a size four to a size six.

The study which was undertaken by the College of Podiatry in London, discovered that as people have become heavier and taller, their feet have grown larger. This could be attributed to their feet splaying out because of the added bulk.

This is not seen as a generational change only.

Research done among 2000 adults found that 26% of males and 41% of females admit that their feet have become larger during their adult life. It was also found that 61% of males and 68% of females reported that their feet were becoming wider. Almost 41% attribute this to weight gain.

Although our feet are becoming bigger, we do not necessarily change our shoe size. With one in six people not having had their feet measured, many of them risk major problems by squeezing their feet into shoes that are too narrow and too short. Around 62% of people in the UK were unaware that they are able to obtain shoes in different widths. This has resulted in 29% of females and 18% of males stating that they suffer from aching feet on an almost daily basis.

It is believed that part of this problem can be blamed on internet shopping. Around 25% have purchased footwear online, which upon receipt does not fit, but they wear it anyway.

Lorraine Jones, a podiatrist from the College of Podiatry, said an increase in body weight places added pressure on your feet which means the joints and ligaments have to work harder to maintain the structure of the foot and retain mobility. Over time, the feet start to splay to allow for the increase in pressure. This may lead to mobility problems and the risk of osteoarthritis in the lower limb joints.

She said regardless of your shoe size, the main factor is to wear a well-fitting, comfortable shoe.

Another podiatrist from the College of Podiatry, Emma Supple, said that people should not be embarrassed by their shoe size. The perception that small, narrow feet are feminine and dainty creates a barrier to females buying wider, larger shoes.

The styles of shoes that are available are made to be fashionable and often not well-fitting. Designs such as court shoes and ballet pumps are often warn in a smaller size to avoid them falling off the feet.

It is not only adults who have seen an increase in their shoe size as this applies to children as well. In 1961, the average 11-year old boy wore a size three and a half to four shoe and the average girl a size three. Now, this has changed to size four and a half to five for boys and size four for girls.

Image Credit: Tobias Lindman

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