Diet quality and the attractiveness of male body odor

Andrea Zuniga, Richard J. Stevenson*, Mehmut K. Mahmut, Ian D. Stephen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Human axillary sweat may provide information pertaining to genetic relatedness and health status. A significant contributor to good health, both in the short and longer term, is a diet rich in fruit and vegetables. In this study we tested whether dietary fruit and vegetable intake, assessed indirectly by skin spectrophotometry (assessing dietary carotenoid intakes) and subjectively by food frequency questionnaire, was associated with more pleasant smelling sweat. Male participants provided axillary sweat samples and dietary information. Female participants then evaluated these samples on several affective, qualitative and psychophysical dimensions. The skin spectrophotometry measure (CIELab b*), indicative of greater fruit and vegetable intake, was significantly associated with more pleasant smelling sweat (with more floral, fruity, sweet and medicinal qualities), independent of sweat intensity. Self-report dietary data revealed that fat, meat, egg and tofu intake was associated with more pleasant smelling sweat, and greater carbohydrate intake with stronger smelling less pleasant sweat. These data parallel facial judgments, in which yellower more carotenoid rich skin, is found to be more attractive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-143
Number of pages8
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

Keywords

  • Body odor
  • Carotenoids
  • Diet
  • Health signal
  • Mate choice
  • Mate quality

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