Struggling to Lose Those Extra Pounds? There Could Be an Upside

Excessive weight may be a uniquely modern problem, but a new study suggests that men may prefer heavier women in times of economic uncertainty — a bias that could be based on some ancient genetic logic.

MSNBC reported Aug. 8 that researchers in the U.K. found that men subjected to high stress levels in an experiment were more likely to prefer women with higher body-mass index (BMI) compared to a control group of relaxed men.

“It certainly would have been adaptive for ancestral man to have a chubby wife during stressful times of famine,” according to biological anthropologist Helen Fisher of the Center for Human Evolution Studies at Rutgers University, who was not involved in the study. “Not only would she have had more calories to burn, and thus more energy and endurance, but since fat stores estrogen, she would have remained fertile for longer.”

So, while it may be healthier to get your weight down to the normal range, in the meantime you could enjoy some unexpected attention while the recession lingers. “There’s a perk for being chubby in economically lean times,” says Fisher.

The research from the University of Westminster was published in the journal PLoS ONE.

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