Newcastle University identifies "ideal body"

The ideal male and female bodies according to each of the sexes have been identified by researchers at Newcastle University using a special 3D design programme.

Predictably, the most important feature for the ideal female body was a slim body and BMI of 19 - at the bottom of the healthy BMI scale.

The research is part of a bigger project looking at the causes and possible treatments for anorexia.

Researchers were interested to discover that, when surveyed about what they found attractive, both men and women selected images for the opposite sex and themselves which were of healthy body sizes.

This was true both of the female ideal produced by women and the ideal female partner's body set by the men.

For male physical attractiveness, upper body strength seemed to be the most important feature.

"Much of what we found isn't surprising, in that healthy body shapes are also the most attractive, which from an evolutionary point of view makes sense.

But social factors seem to have come into play as well, with both sexes over estimating key areas such as amount of muscle or breast size.

"Neither model differed in huge amounts though so maybe men aren't from Mars and women from Venus, we're a lot closer in our opinions than that."

– Dr Martin Tovee, Reader in visual cognition at Newcastle University