A recent study may have shed light into the science of attraction, as a UCSB professor and his colleague have found a connection between biology and why the hourglass figure is often considered so appealing.

According to a study by UCSB anthropology professor Steven J.C. Gaulin and his colleague William D. Lassek of the University of Pittsburgh, men find women with the hourglass figure – in which body fat is distributed more to hips and less to waists – the most appealing feminine figure. Gaulin and Lassek discovered that the reason is potentially due to omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for cognitive development, in a woman’s hips and thighs.

The results show a strong correlation between not only women’s waist to hip ratio and their cognitive ability, but also the cognitive ability of their children.

The study examined information from a sample of 16,325 women and compared their waist-to-hip ratio with their scores on cognitive tests.

Gaulin and Lassek discovered that women with slim waists and large hips are not only more likely smarter than their counterparts, but also more likely to have better cognitively developed children than women without the hourglass figure. This is because the hips store special kinds of long-chain, polyunsaturated fatty acids that are crucial for an infant’s brain development during the mother’s third trimester.

“Thus, the relationship between the intelligence of parents and the intelligence of daughters may be partly mediated by genes related to waist to hip ratio, and the ability to store essential fatty acids,” Gaulin and Lassek wrote in their study.

Additionally, the study shows that the type of fat that accumulates around the waist actually inhibits the synthesis of the important fatty acids found in hips.

“As predicted, adolescent and adult women with lower WHRs have higher cognitive abilities than those with higher WHRs,” the study said.

Humans have very large brains in comparison to primate relatives, and this study offers an explanation as to how this evolutionary advantage came to pass.

“It would be surprising if a tripling in brain size compared to our nearest primate relatives did not foster some changes in the processes supporting neurodevelopment,” Gaulin and Lassek wrote.

According to the research, it is possible that men are genetically programmed to feel a greater attraction toward this body type, because they want a more intelligent partner that will bear more intelligent children.