Proof that if you look good, you feel much better

Good looks not only open doors but also guarantee a long, healthy life - from the age of 30, the more attractive you are, the better your health, psychologists have found.

Good looks not only open doors but also guarantee a long, healthy life - from the age of 30, the more attractive you are, the better your health, psychologists have found.

Although attractiveness is not a sign of good health in adolescence, the older a person becomes, the more likely it is to indicate good health, a study presented at the American Psychological Society's annual conference shows.

The researchers also investigated, in the first study of its kind, whether baby-faced individuals were perceived as healthier and whether this perception was accurate. Having a baby face - looking younger than you are - was found to be a false advertiser of health until the age of 50. But from the age of 50, baby-faced people had better health. Sir Cliff Richard and Joanna Lumley, for example, may have benefited from retaining their youthful looks.

The study involved 250 men and women who had taken part in tests begun between 1928 and 1933. They were assessed for levels of attractiveness and "baby-faceness" at ages 17-18,30-40 and 52-60. Their perceived health, and results of medical examinations, were analysed.

People perceived those with baby faces as particularly healthy, whatever their age. But, in fact, at age 17 or 18, having a baby face was linked with worse health, with the effect becoming less as the years went by. "Baby-faceness was not an indicator of good health for younger people, as it is often associated with obesity," said Dr Mandy Smith, of BrandeisUniversity, Massachusetts, a co-author of the study.

People perceived that the more attractive someone was, the healthier they were. This was not true for teenagers but became more relevant the older someone became. Dr Smith said: "It seems as if, in adolescents, we are blinded by beauty, whereas in early and mid-adulthood we are blinded by the youthful appearance of baby-faced individuals."

She said: "It remains to be determined what it is about attractive faces that reveals health [in adulthood], since it was not symmetry, averageness or body mass index [a ratio of weight to height]."

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