CitationBulczak, Grzegorz & Gugushvili, Alexi (2023). Physical attractiveness and cardiometabolic risk. American Journal of Human Biology.
AbstractObjectives There is only limited evidence suggesting that physical attractiveness and individuals' actual health are causally linked. Past studies demonstrate that characteristics related to physical attractiveness are more likely to be present in healthy individuals, including those with better cardiovascular and metabolic health, yet many of these studies do not account for individuals' initial health and socioeconomic characteristics, which are related to both physical attractiveness and later life health. Methods We use panel survey data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health in the United States to examine the relationship between interviewer-rated in-person physical attractiveness and actual cardiometabolic risk (CMR) based on a set of relevant biomarkers: LDL cholesterol, glucose mg/dL, C-reactive protein, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and resting heart rate. Results We identify a robust relationship between individuals' physical attractiveness and 10-year follow up actual health measured by the levels of CMR. Individuals of above-average attractiveness appear to be noticeably healthier than those who are described as having average attractiveness. We find that individuals' gender and race/ethnicity do not have a major effect on the described relationship. The link between physical attractiveness and health is affected by interviewers' main demographic characteristics. We carefully address the possibility of confounders affecting our results including sociodemographic and socioeconomic characteristics, cognitive and personality traits, initial health problems and BMI. Conclusion Our findings are largely in line with the evolutionary perspective which assumes that physical attractiveness is linked to individuals' biological health. Being perceived as physically attractive might also imply, among other aspects, high levels of satisfaction with life, self-confidence and ease of finding intimate partners, all of which can positively affect individuals' health.
Reference TypeJournal Article
Journal TitleAmerican Journal of Human Biology