Does what you eat make you attractive? Researchers say they think so

According to a study by researchers at the University of Montpellier, people who ate a breakfast that had refined carbohydrates – like white bread and pancakes – were rated less attractive than those who chose unrefined foods such as wholegrain bread and oatmeal.

Researchers in France say eating pastries and washing them down with a shot of juice for breakfast may taste yummy, but there’s a price to be paid -- and they are not talking about a widening waistline.

It’s your face.

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According to a study by scientists at the University of Montpellier, people who ate a breakfast that consisted of refined carbohydrates – like white bread and pancakes – were rated less attractive than those who chose unrefined foods such as wholegrain bread and oatmeal.

“It’s surprising to consider but our dietary choices can have rapid effects on our appearance,” said Dr Claire Berticat, an evolutionary biologist and the first author of the study.

“These physiological changes could subtly alter facial features, impacting how others perceive attractiveness.”

The high amount of sugar that comes in fruit juices along with refined carbohydrates causes a spike in a person’s blood sugar and insulin levels that can affect skin appearance, the study showed.

The study included 104 adults -- 52 men and 52 women -- ages 20 to 30. The participants were assigned a 500-calorie breakfast rich in either refined or unrefined carbohydrates.

The refined carbohydrate breakfast included a French baguette, jam, apple or orange juice, and tea or coffee with sugar.

The unrefined carbohydrate breakfast was made up of stone-ground wholewheat bread with butter and cheese, an orange or apple and tea or coffee without sugar.

After the groups ate breakfast, researchers measured blood sugar levels and took photos of their faces under controlled lighting conditions. The photos were then viewed by another group who rated the photos on how old, how masculine or feminine and how attractive the individuals looked.

According to the study’s results, the immediate effect of eating refined carbohydrates for breakfast was a decrease in facial attractiveness for both men and women.

Eating refined carbohydrates for between-meal snacks and afternoon snacks was also associated with lower attractiveness ratings, according to the study’s results.

The study also showed that eating high-energy foods during those same periods was linked to higher attractiveness ratings.

“The effect varies by gender and meal type, underscoring the complex relationship between diet and attractiveness,” Berticat said. “Our findings serve as a compelling reminder of the far-reaching impact of dietary choices not only on health but also on traits having particular social importance such as facial attractiveness.”

Erica LaFata, a clinical psychologist, told UPI that the study calls into question the popular public message that “a calorie is just a calorie.”

“More research is needed to systematically explore the potential explanations for these findings, such as their evolutionary basis, especially the differences for men versus women and by the timing of the meal,” said LaFata, an assistant research professor at the Drexel University Center for Weight, Eating and Lifestyle Science (WELL Center) in Philadelphia.

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