A woman's attractiveness relates to the size of her waist compared with her hips, it has been found.
Scientists have discovered the ratio which, they say, makes for the perfect figure. New Zealand anthropologist Barnaby Dixson set out to find what makes a woman attractive to men.
A group of volunteers were presented with various pictures of a woman in which her bust, waist and hips had been digitally altered and asked to rate the image for attractiveness. Infra-red cameras tracked their eyes as they looked at the photos.
A waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7 scored the highest marks. The attractiveness of the hourglass figure holds true across countries and cultures, research shows. Studies show that men in the UK, Cameroon, Germany and China agree with the poll.
Links to health and fertility
It is thought that a small waist-to-hip ratio is equated in the mind with good health and high fertility.
Dr Dixson of Victoria University of Wellington said: "It is likely that a perfect 0.7 ratio sends a biological signal to men that that woman is most fertile and most likely to produce a healthy offspring, no matter what size that woman is. It is all about the distribution of fat which is directly linked to fertility."
As for what women want, Dr Dixson said that men were wasting their time pumping iron in the gym as women invariably preferred a leaner, less muscle-bound physique.
"On a biological level, women are more likely to pick a leaner, even slightly more effeminate man as they equate those physical traits with being more caring and gentle and therefore a better prospect as a partner."