Effects of age and body mass index on breast characteristics: a cluster analysis



Publication Details

Coltman, C. E., Steele, J. R. & McGhee, D. E. (2018). Effects of age and body mass index on breast characteristics: a cluster analysis. Ergonomics, 61 (9), 1232-1245.


Limited research has quantified variation in the characteristics of the breasts among women and determined how these breast characteristics are influenced by age and body mass. The aim of this study was to classify the breasts of women in the community into different categories based on comprehensive and objective measurements of the characteristics of their breasts and torsos, and to determine the effect of age and body mass index on the prevalence of these breast categories. Four breast characteristic clusters were identified (X-Large, Very-ptotic & Splayed; Large, Ptotic & Splayed; Medium & Mildly-ptotic; and Small & Non-ptotic), with age and BMI shown to significantly affect the breast characteristic clusters. These results highlight the difference in breast characteristics exhibited among women and how these clusters are affected by age and BMI. The breast characteristic clusters identified in this study could be used as a basis for future bra designs and sizing systems in order to improve bra fit for women.

Practitioner summary: This original research provides evidence for bra designers and manufacturers on the diverse breast characteristics exhibited by women within the population and the significant effect that both body mass index and age have on the breast characteristic clusters. Future bra designs should consider the variation in breast characteristics among women.

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