The upside of women's growing feet? A better chance at fitting into size 9 sample sale shoes. Photo: Corbis

Self-conscious about your big feet? Don't fret.

A new study conducted by Debenhams department store in the UK shows that the size of women's shoes in the country has steadily risen over the last five years, reports the Daily Mail.

The research found that a women's size 5 (US 7) used to be the norm, but sales of size 6 (US 8) shoes have increased 17 percent in 2009, while size 9 (US 11) sales increased 23 percent.

To put things in perspective, 30 years ago, the standard women's shoes size at Debenhams was a 4 (US 6), and sixty years ago, the average size in the UK was a 3 1/2.

"I have been in practice 42 years and in that time standard foot sizes have changed dramatically," Michael Paynton, the chairman of the British Chiropody and Podiatry Association, told the paper. "At one time it would have been difficult for a woman to get a size 6 [US 8] shoe. Now that is the norm."

"It's part of the process of evolution, as generally people are getting bigger and taller," explains Paynton. "We are seeing it clinically in both men and women as modern diets and lifestyle change."

These new "modern diets" include mass consumption of high-density processed foods such as pizza that stimulate growth hormones during puberty, according to the Daily Mail.

Not only are these foods contributing to the rise in obesity in many nations, but, as we previously reported, they've also helped increase the average bust of British women from a 34B to 36C.

Whether the fashion industry will start embracing this expanding and lengthening female silhouette is yet to be seen, but at least a few magazines seem to be getting the message.

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