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The age-old riddle of why women are fatter than men may have been solved – they need curvy thighs, hips and buttocks to make their babies intelligent, a study claims.

The age-old riddle of why women are fatter than men may have been solved – they need curvy thighs, hips and buttocks to make their babies intelligent, a study claims.

These 'fat banks' play a vital role in fuelling the development of newborns' brains via breast-feeding, say the academics.

Professor Will Lassek, a public-health epidemiologist at Pittsburgh University, Pennsylvania, who led the research, explained: 'The fat in these areas is a depot for building a baby's brain

You need lots of fat to make a nervous system, and the fats in these areas are also enriched in DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is a particularly important component in the human brain.

'It looks as if women have evolved to accumulate these fats and hold on to them – until a baby arrives.'

It has long been a mystery why women have so much body fat – typically 30 per cent of their total weight.

Professor Lassek said: 'This is similar to the levels seen in bears going into hibernation or whales living in cold Arctic seas.

'Women have traded muscle for fat, so they are about a third as strong.' Men's bodies are made up of just five to 10 per cent body fat, and they have a much more linear shape as a result.

Women's extra fat is lost during breast-feeding, when it is needed for their baby's brain, according to Professor Lassek, who has published his research in the book Why Women Need Fat.

Mothers who breast-feed typically lose one pound of fat (half a kilo) a month, he added.

Over the past five million years, the average human brain has trebled in volume from 400ml to 1,200ml. It could therefore follow that women have had to become fatter to keep up with the growing demands of babies' brains.

David Bainbridge, a reproductive biologist at Cambridge University who has also studied the female body shape, said the latest findings could explain why men find curvy women such as singer Jennifer Lopez so attractive: it's because their children are likely to be cleverer.

'The brain-building, breast-milk lipids (fats) are largely derived from the fat stored in a mother's thighs and buttocks,' he said.

'Women with larger thighs have higher levels of these lipids. There is even evidence that they and their children are more intelligent as a result.'

The research follows on from a study published last June that discovered men who are hungry prefer curvier women.

Lead author Dr Viren Swami of London's University of Westminster said that the men's survival instincts had kicked in.

'If you are hungry you want resources and a partner who has resources. Someone who is heavier has access to food.'

And in 2009, researchers at St Andrews University in Scotland concluded that men were more attracted to curvier women because they deemed them healthier.

Source: Dailymail.co.uk

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