Eating refined carbs may make you appear uglier!

MONTPELLIER, France — New research is giving an entirely new meaning to the old phrase “you are what you eat.” Scientists from the University of Montpellier have found a link between the consumption of refined carbohydrates and perceptions of facial attractiveness. Simply put, those who ate more heavily processed meals and “junk food” were rated as being less appealing facially by the opposite sex.

The study explains how both acute and chronic consumption of high-glycemic foods (those which rapidly affect your blood sugar) showed an association with lower attractiveness ratings, regardless of factors like a person’s BMI and age. In other words, eating more highly processed food goods like pastries, cookies, and chips may lead to others seeing you as ugly!

A typical Western diet usually features tons of refined carbohydrates, or heavily processed foods lacking in any real nutritional value. Examples include white flour, table sugar, and ingredients found in countless packaged snacks.

Earlier studies reveal that increased consumption of these foods may increase one’s risk of adverse health effects, such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Moreover, preliminary evidence suggests eating lots of refined carbohydrates may also influence non-medical traits as well. Study authors set out to further explore these topics using a study involving 104 French male and female adults.

Study authors provided some participants with a high-glycemic breakfast packed with refined carbohydrates known to boost blood sugar levels, while other study participants received a low-glycemic breakfast. Everyone also filled out a survey asking about their typical refined carb-eating habits.

Overweight man eating junk food and sugary snacks
Those who ate more heavily processed meals and “junk food” were rated as being less appealing facially by the opposite sex. (© Wayhome Studio –

From there, a group of heterosexual volunteers rated the facial attractiveness of opposite-sex participants using photos taken two hours after eating breakfast. To make the test more uniform from person to person, researchers only included participants with four grandparents of European descent.

The analyses revealed that consuming a high-glycemic breakfast showed a clear association with lower facial attractiveness among both men and women. Chronic consumption of refined carbohydrates during breakfast and snacks, meanwhile, also displayed a connection to lower attractiveness ratings. However, it’s worth noting the consumption of high-energy foods at these times was actually associated with higher attractiveness ratings.

Study authors acknowledge some noted differences among the sexes. Regarding afternoon snacking in men specifically, high-energy intake showed an association with lower attractiveness ratings and high-glycemic intake had a connection to higher attractiveness ratings.

These findings held true even after the research team statistically accounted for other factors potentially influencing attractiveness like age, perceived age, BMI, smoking habits, and facial hair levels. Moving forward, more research including larger and more diverse sample sizes is necessary in order to form a deeper understanding of exactly how refined carbohydrates may hold an association with attractiveness and other social traits.

“Facial attractiveness, an important factor of social interactions, seems to be impacted by immediate and chronic refined carbohydrate consumption in men and women,” study authors add in a media release.

The study is published in PLoS ONE.


  1. Genetics determines what you will look like. And… can overeat ‘healthy foods’ as easily as simple carbs. I’ve seen attractive women who eat a diet of mostly simple carbs and not so attractive ones who eat a heathy diet.

    Everything in moderation.

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