A group of experts in Canada found that the amount of fat or adiposity in people's faces can significantly influence how others find them attractive. With that, researchers determined the exact amount of weight people need to lose or gain in order to be perceived as good-looking.
In a new study, the team of psychologists from the University of Toronto explained that although people could distinguish weight loss in another person's outward features (face), being perceived as attractive takes twice as much weight loss.
Led by Nicholas Rule, head of the university's Social Perception and Cognition Research, the group gathered images of both men and women's faces to find out the precise weight an individual would have to lose or gain. The team's findings are featured in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
The participants of the study were aged 20 to 40 years old. Before being photographed, they were instructed to maintain a neutral facial expression and to remove any pieces of jewelry such as piercings or earrings. If their hair was long, they were asked to pull their hair back.
After capturing the images, researchers edited each participant's photo to put a number that corresponded to a certain weight category. The photos were numbered based on the person's body mass index (BMI), ranging from underweight (with a BMI of less than 18.5 kg/m2) to obese (with a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or greater).
The participants were then told to randomly select two photos from a bunch of images. They indicated which one they thought looked heavier, and which one they thought looked attractive.
After analyzing their collected data, psychologists discovered that there had to a minimum 0.89 kg/m2 change in the BMI of a person for others to notice a difference in their weight. To change people's perception about attractiveness, the BMI needed to change almost twice as much.
According to researchers, men needed an average reduction of 1.47 kg/m2 in their BMI to appear better-looking, whereas women needed an average reduction of 1.59 kg/m2 in their BMI. For men with average height, this would translate to a drop of 18 pounds; for women with average height, it was a drop of 14 pounds.
"The difference between the groups suggests that women's facial attractiveness may be more sensitive to changes in weight," explained Rule. He added that women who attempt to reduce weight should lose slightly lesser pounds compared to men.
Photo: Gregg O'Connell | Flickr