Perrett D, Whitehead R, Hjemdahl R, Bender A, Waters A, Henderson A, Talamas S, Cairns P & Ozakinci G (2016) Skin Colour Cues to Health and Fitness. 39th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP) 2016, Barcelona. Perception, 45 (Suppl 2), pp. 218-218. https://doi.org/10.1177/0301006616671273
Carotenoids are antioxidant plant pigments that contribute to skin yellowness. We have studied how this aspect of skin colour relates to different health characteristics. In cross-sectional studies, high skin yellowness is a reliable cue to a healthy diet that is high in fruit and vegetables (and hence high in carotenoids). In 6 week longitudinal studies, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption by 2 portions/day is associated with visible increase in skin yellowness. Skin yellowness is reduced in individuals with high body fat and BMI (Body Mass Index or weight scaled by height) compared to those with normal BMI. Overweight status and high levels of body fat may reduce carotenoids by lowering antioxidant defences and increasing oxidative stress. In studies of 6–8 weeks of exercise training skin yellowness rises with increases in VO2 max estimates of fitness (reflecting greater efficiency in the body’s ability to utilise oxygen). Fitness may enhance skin yellowness by upregulating endogenous antioxidants and protecting carotenoids. At the perceptual level, a moderate increase in skin yellowness (simulating gain in skin carotenoid) is seen as attractive and associated with higher fitness particularly in those who are fit themselves. Therefore skin colour provides a cue to multiple aspects of health.
Perception: Volume 45, Issue Suppl 2
|Publication date online||06/12/2016|
|Date accepted by journal||01/11/2016|
|Conference||39th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP) 2016|