In a press release by the University of Toronto researchers in the Department of Psychology have determined the amount of weight people need to gain or lose before others notice or find them more attractive.
“Women and men of average height need to gain or lose about three and a half and four kilograms… respectively, for anyone to see it in their face,” said Nicholas Rule, associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Social Perception and Cognition at U of T, “but they need to lose about twice as much for anyone to find them more attractive.”
When it comes to incentives for weight loss, some people are more motivated to look attractive than to improve their health.
Rule and postdoctoral fellow Daniel Re looked at facial adiposity — the perception of weight in the face — because it is an accurate indicator of a person’s body mass index (BMI).
“It is a robust indicator of one’s health,” said Rule. “Increased facial adiposity is associated with a compromised immune system, poor cardiovascular function, frequent respiratory infections, and mortality. So, even a small decrease can improve one’s health.”
Participants in the study were asked to compare randomly drawn pairs of faces from each sequence and choose the heavier-looking one. After several trials, the researchers determined a change in BMI of approximately 1.33 kg/m2 is required to make a difference noticeable.
The difference between the groups suggests women’s facial attractiveness may be more sensitive to changes in weight
“We calculated the weight change thresholds in terms of BMI rather than simple kilograms or pounds, so that people of all weights and heights can apply it to themselves according to their individual stature,” said Re.
Rule and Re found that the average decrease required to make the faces in the sample appear more attractive was 2.38 kg/m2 for women, and 2.59 kg/m2 for men, translating to about 6.3 and 8.2 kilograms (approximately 14 and 18 pounds) for women and men of average height, respectively.
“The difference between the groups suggests women’s facial attractiveness may be more sensitive to changes in weight,” said Rule. “This just means women attempting to lose weight need to shed slightly fewer pounds than men for people to find them more attractive.”
“When it comes to incentives for weight loss, some people are more motivated to look attractive than to improve their health,” said Re.