The value of facial attractiveness for encouraging fruit and vegetable consumption analyses from a randomized controlled trial

Katherine M Appleton, Alanna J McGrath, Michelle C McKinley, Claire R Draffin, Lesley L Hamill, Ian S Young, Jayne V Woodside

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND: An effect of increased fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption on facial attractiveness has been proposed and recommended as a strategy to promote FV intakes, but no studies to date demonstrate a causal link between FV consumption and perceived attractiveness. This study investigated perceptions of attractiveness before and after the supervised consumption of 2, 5 or 8 FV portions/day for 4 weeks in 30 low FV consumers. Potential mechanisms for change via skin colour and perceived skin healthiness were also investigated.

METHODS: Faces were photographed at the start and end of the 4 week intervention in controlled conditions. Seventy-three independent individuals subsequently rated all 60 photographs in a randomized order, for facial attractiveness, facial skin yellowness, redness, healthiness, clarity, and symmetry.

RESULTS: Using clustered multiple regression, FV consumption over the previous 4 weeks had no direct effect on attractiveness, but, for female faces, some evidence was found for an indirect impact, via linear and non-linear changes in skin yellowness. Effect sizes, however, were small. No association between FV consumption and skin healthiness was found, but skin healthiness was associated with facial attractiveness.

CONCLUSIONS: Controlled and objectively measured increases in FV consumption for 4 weeks resulted indirectly in increased attractiveness in females via increases in skin yellowness, but effects are small and gradually taper as FV consumption increases. Based on the effect sizes from this study, we are hesitant to recommend the use of facial attractiveness to encourage increased FV consumption.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Clinical trial Registration Number NCT01591057 ( ). Registered: 27th April, 2012.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number298
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2018


  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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