Selling clothes in China requires just half the number of sizes to reach the same percentage of the population as in the US, according to the results of China's largest ever body measurement study.

The survey, by global size and fit expert Alvanon, also showed that the younger generation in eastern China is growing taller and heavier.

As part of its research, Alvanon scanned over 28,000 people in four key regions of the country at various urban retail shopping centres, capturing 45 measurements per person.

"We did this study because there's a huge retail opportunity in China, and a lot of brands going into China don't really understand what it takes to sell here," Janice Wang, CEO of Alvanon, told just-style.

"The right product mix must be combined with the right size and fit to achieve a successful brand following in China."

"Our China body measurement study, combined with the data we've compiled in the rest of the world, enables us to provide leading apparel brands with powerful insights about their target consumers."

Highlights of the research show the core body shape in China is significantly smaller and more homogenous than in the US and Europe.

But there is also a difference in stature in both genders between Chinese of northern origin and southern origin.

Women in China have much narrower variances in bust, waist and hip measurements than those in the US - which means a smaller number of clothing sizes are required to cater for them.

And in common with other Western countries, the younger generation in eastern China is growing taller and heavier.

By studying its own data and other size surveys, Alvanon has found that over the span of a decade (1992-2002) the average height of children aged 2-18 years old increased by almost 1.5" - nearly twice the increase seen among US children.

It also calculates that over 30% of urban Chinese are considered overweight, with the highest increase in body mass index seen in Chinese women aged 35-45.