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Flatter me. But be careful.

I’m in the midst of writing a blog post on nutrition and brain health and while it’s in the works, I thought I’d dig this past post out of my WordPress archive basement, dust it off and rerun it. It has to do with brain function, so it will be a good precursor to the one I’m working on now. This one was written three years ago, but nothing has changed. The research still stands and yes, I’m proud to say I have a summa cum laude booty to shake.

Maybe the question should be, does this PhD make my butt look big?

Ladies, the next time you’re doing that thing in front of the mirror where you squirm around twisting and twirling, trying to see whether your jeans look too tight or your bum looks too big, just stop. Don’t even bother. You’re way too smart for that. Seriously. Research shows a direct correlation between an ample booty and increased cognitive ability. In women and their offspring.

Huh?

Whose idea was it to do a study on curvy women and brain power, anyway?

I wonder. But, I’m also not complaining. In fact, it’s about dang time we celebrated our brainy curves.

The study I’m referring to has to do with omega-3 fatty acids (no pun intended), a woman’s waist-to-hip ratio (WHP) and the relative proportion of upper-body fat to lower-body fat. We’re talking smaller waists and bigger rear-ends and hips, so this full-figured, hippo-mamma featured above wouldn’t qualify. She doesn’t exactly have a small waist, but we can safely say she’s bottom heavy.

Dr. William Lassek, a rather geeky* University of Pittsburgh epidemiologist, co-authored a study entitled, Waist-hip ratio and cognitive ability: is gluteofemoral fat a privileged store of neurodevelopmental resources? Published in Evolution and Human Behavior, it suggests that men prefer women with smaller waists and wider hips for evolutionary reasons. Survival of the fittest. According to the research, those women are smarter and have a heightened survival advantage. In addition, the study found that the children of vee-vee-la-voom moms also scored higher on cognitive tests.

The body fat around a woman’s hips is higher in omega-3s, which improves brain function and is important to fetal neuro-development. Omega-3s also boost fertility and overall health. According to Dr. Lassek and his colleagues, it stands to reason that for survival purposes, men would prefer women who are smarter, more fertile, healthier and who produce brighter offspring. The curves just come with the territory.

Oooh, I get it. So, men can’t help it?

Gawking at curvy women is just a matter of male genetic expression. Slack-jawed drooling can’t possibly be part of the natural selection process, so don’t get carried away, but this is certainly interesting and entertaining research.

And, little did we know that waist-to-hip ratio has been of interest to evolutionary psychologists for years now. Several studies, including an analysis of data collected by the US Department of Health and Human Services (our tax dollars at work), link female body shape with mental performance. Lower-body fat (hips and booty) is higher in omega-3s while abdominal and upper-body fat is higher in omega-6s and saturated fats. It is hypothesized that omega-6s are less important to brain development and function and may even be detrimental. Omega-3s are thought to enhance communication between brain cells, making for zippy intelligence.

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers compared female waste-to-hip ratios to scores on cognitive function tests and found that a lower WHR correlated with higher scores. They also found that as the mom’s ratio goes down, the children’s intelligence goes up. The data is fairly persuasive. The study sample included more than 16,000 women and the curvy girls outsmarted the skinny and pear-shaped girls on cognitive tests – same with their offspring.

Are you wondering how to figure out this magical ratio and how your IQ is somehow connected to your rear-end? You divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement and hope for the best. According to these guys (remember these are guys doing the research), this study suggests an “ideal” WHR of somewhere around 0.6 to 0.7. Think J-Lo. Small waist, ample booty.

Bottom line? Next time you shop for new jeans and you have to give up after 10 minutes of shimmying and wrestling with a size that just won’t cooperate with you, let it go.

You’re too smart for those jeans, anyway.

*I happen to find “geeky” very appealing. I’m thinking the curvy women, if they were that smart, probably chose the guys who could protect them from the sabertooth tigers. Would that be the strong caveman-types or the resourceful and bright MacGyver-types? Well, here we are a bazillion years later and it’s the geeky guys doing the research on the curvy girls.

Isn’t life grand? Evolutionarily speaking.

You might also like another interesting male/female study I wrote about – gluten-free pumpkin pecan boyfriend bait

Embrace your curves and shake your booty!
Melissa

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21 Responses to “does my butt look big”

  1. Alta says:

    Definitely a fun read for today! Score one for us curvy girls!

  2. Oh, how you make me laugh and give me the stuff I really need to know, Melissa! I might have to read this post more than once to totally get it despite how smart I am. LOL And, what about lying on the bed to zip up one’s jeans? I guess we need to give that up, too? ;-) BTW, after much time in airports this past weekend, I see that leggings are back in style. No squirming to get those on, but, boy, the results are often not pretty. Heading off to refresh my knowledge of Omega 3 and Omega 6 sources. I’m so glad we have you to help us through all this nutritional and body data!

    xo,
    Shirley

    • Melissa says:

      Shirley,

      Leggings are back? Really? Uh-oh.

      And I know the lying on the bed, zipper trick as well.

      I’m planning (always “planning”) a post on the difference between all the omegas. It’s on my vision board (which is kept entirely in my head).

      Thanks for tipping me off about the leggings. I’m starting to count on you for lots of “head’s up” moments! I do appreciate it though.
      xo

  3. No wonder my kids are so smart. It’s my size 12 backside that is responsible.

  4. Diana Allen says:

    How about SMART jeans instead of skinny jeans? What would they look like? COMFORTABLE!

  5. Maggie says:

    Yes! Thanks for making me proud of my curves and my smarts, all in one post :)

  6. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Melissa, Gluten Free Emily. Gluten Free Emily said: Gluten Free For Good does my butt look big: Flatter me. But be careful. I’m in the midst of writing … http://bit.ly/gg5JwV #GlutenFree [...]

  7. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shirley Braden, Melissa. Melissa said: Curvy girls rejoice http://t.co/Q7dRkTD via @AddThis [...]

  8. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    This study only goes to show I knew it all along….. I really should be running the world… well perhaps not the world, just the UK and if not that surely my local council :)

    This is wonderful stuff, an excellent read and thought provoking as usual. Perhaps I should admit to having too many curves around the middle incase you ever meet me at the airport and start looking for Elle Macpherson instead :) Yes smart jeans are what we need, smart elastication at the very least…. has anyone ever pointed out to the manufacturers how hard it is to gift wrap a butternut squash? Boyish figures no problem but as soon as things get curvy it either gets difficult or expensive. My dear sister-in-law who is having a stressful day, fits your description perfectly and is very smart so I’ll mention this and hopefully lift her spirits.

    Cid

    • Melissa says:

      Cid,

      Or, at the very least, your household and maybe your neighborhood. I’m one of those women who hates shopping for jeans. I’ve spent my life backpacking, telemark skiing and all kinds of quad-building sports. I do NOT have skinny legs. Or a skinny bum, for that matter. But I don’t have much of that “muffin top” thing, so if I get jeans big enough to fit my rather athletic legs and ample bum, they’re too big in the waist. If I try the correct waist size, there is no way in h**l that I can shimmy them over my hips. I absolutely hate shopping for jeans. I’d rather wear a skirt. Flared so it starts small and goes in all directions from there. =)

      When I meet you at the airport, we’ll both be carrying signs saying “Table Number 5″ — that way there will be no mistaking who we are. I’m looking forward to it!

      Melissa
      xo

  9. lo says:

    Love the idea of smart jeans. Skinny jeans were never really all that flattering on me anyhow :)

    Love that you call attention to studies like this, Melissa. Always great brain food over here — and it helps when there’s a little bit of an ego boost to boot (or is that a booty boost?)

    • Melissa says:

      “Booty boost.” I love that. You are so good with words! Skinny jeans are not in my repertoire either. I don’t even have skinny calves, so I’m in trouble right off the bat. =)

      Thanks for adding your quirky sense of humor to the conversation. It’s always appreciated!

  10. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shirley Braden, Melissa. Melissa said: Omega-3s and jeans sizes. Smarty-pants girls. Check here for more info. http://t.co/qzLbCnP via @AddThis [...]

  11. stephanie says:

    Melissa,

    well, gee. What a way to end the week. Justification for the size of my backside. I loved this post.

    So, this is really interesting research…I have to say.
    Perhaps the research is in some way recognizing what many cultures have valued for hundreds of years. In South Africa (where my husband hails from) the tribal cultures (the Zulu in particular) won’t marry a woman unless she has larger hips and backside. The “skinny” women are passed over. These are women of considerable physical strength.

    Hope your doing well and things have warmed up there….we’re still buried under 4 feet of iced-snow. I reckon we won’t see the ground until late March. Words cannot express how much I long for spring…..

  12. stephanie says:

    Melissa,

    well, gee. What a way to end the week. Justification for the size of my backside. I loved this post.

    So, this is really interesting research…I have to say.
    Perhaps the research is in some way recognizing what many cultures have valued for hundreds of years. In South Africa (where my husband hails from) the tribal cultures (the Zulu in particular) won’t marry a woman unless she has larger hips and backside. The “skinny” women are passed over. These are women of considerable physical strength.

    Hope you’re doing well and things have warmed up there….we’re still buried under 4 feet of iced-snow. I reckon we won’t see the ground until late March. Words cannot express how much I long for spring…..

  13. [...] enjoyed Melissa’s blend of great recipes and fun nutritional musings, including one on intelligence and curviness in women. Maybe that makes the dude who wrote the “I Like Big Butts” song a visionary who [...]

  14. [...] brain health – part 1valentines, chocolate and ski racksUdi’s gluten-free pizza partydoes my butt look bigthe secret of the gluten-free fruity funk cereal NUTRITION [...]

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