Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Figuring Out Attractiveness
12 October 2015

Figuring Out Attractiveness

The media is often blamed for putting pressure on females to be super slim – but are men really drawn to skinny women? Physical attraction is partly driven by fitness and the ability to produce healthy offspring – but while thin women are less likely to suffer from diseases like diabetes and heart conditions, fatter women have historically been better placed to withstand famine. Scientists used these fat verses thin factors to calculate optimum fitness and concluded that men should find women most attractive with a body mass index (BMI) of 24-24.8, the high side of normal weight. However, when men were shown images of female figures, like the examples pictured, a lower BMI of around 19 was preferred. This corresponds to the average BMI of 18–20-year-old women, the age of maximum fertility, demonstrating that the model of attractiveness must also take youthfulness into account.

Written by Mick Warwicker

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