Facial adiposity: a cue to health?

Perception. 2009;38(11):1700-11. doi: 10.1068/p6423.


Facial symmetry, averageness, sexual dimorphism, and skin colour/texture all serve as cues to attractiveness, but their role in the perception of health is less clear. This ambiguity could reflect the fact that these facial traits are not the only cues to health. We propose that adiposity is an important, but thus far disregarded, facial cue to health. Our results demonstrate two important prerequisites for any health cue. First, we show that facial adiposity, or the perception of weight in the face, significantly predicts perceived health and attractiveness. Second, we show that perceived facial adiposity is significantly associated with measures of cardiovascular health and reported infections. Perceived facial adiposity, or a correlate thereof, is therefore an important and valid cue to health that should be included in future studies.

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cues*
  • Face / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult