Health status, parasite load and physical attractiveness of Aka and Ngandu adolescents

From an evolutionary perspective, physical attractiveness is regarded as one indicator of health and fitness value. Most evolutionary studies of mate attraction have been conducted in stratified cultures; few studies have evaluated the relationship between mate attraction and actual measures of health. This study examines mate attraction of 40 Aka hunter-gatherer and 40 Ngandu farmer adolescent males and females. Adolescents were asked to rank the attractiveness of other adolescents of the opposite sex in their respective communities. The health status of each adolescent was determined by body mass index (BMI), skin fold thickness, mid-upper arm circumference and parasite loads. Preliminary results indicate that both males’ and females’ perception of attraction are influenced by health status. In addition, research suggests that nonphysical traits such as sharing, helping others and working hard also influence perceptions of physical attractiveness.

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