A slimmer face is perceived as healthier: Study

A slimmer face is perceived as healthier: Study

Facial analysis
Which of these faces are healthier? (Photo: Frontiers in Psychology)

SINGAPORE: A slim face isn’t just more attractive, it can also be associated with good blood pressure and body fat percentage, a study published in Frontiers in Psychology found.

In the two-part study, the researchers analysed photographs of 50 Malaysian Chinese, 50 Caucasian and 97 black men. All of the photographs were taken with the participants facing the camera directly and wearing neutral expressions.

The participants' BMI, percentage body fat and blood pressure were also measured, and fed into a computer to generate models to predict aspects of underlying physiological health.

In addition, the apparent health of the people in the photograph was rated by participants of the same ethnicity. Their faces were then assessed according to their size and shape.

In the second part of the study, 26 Caucasian people were told to manipulate 60 photographs to “make the face as healthy as possible”.

“We found that the participants altered the faces to look lower in fat, have a lower BMI and, to a lesser extent, a lower blood pressure, in order to make them look healthier,” said study author Dr Ian Stephen from Macquarie University in Sydney.

“This suggests that some of the features that determine how healthy a face looks to humans are the same features that the computer model was using to predict body fat, BMI and blood pressure.”

Dr Stephens added: “The results suggest that our brains have evolved mechanisms for extracting health information from people's faces, allowing us to identify healthy people to mate with or to form cooperative relationships with”.

The researchers hope the findings may lead to the development of a tool that diagnoses health conditions based on patients' faces.  

Source: CNA/bk