|Stressed men drawn to heavy wo men [Photo:Reuters]|
British researchers found that men exposed to tasks that were designed to put them under pressure preferred a wider range of female body sizes.
The work by a team from London and Newcastle is published in the open access journal Plos One.
"There's a lot of literature suggesting that our BMI (body mass index) preferences are hard-wired, but that's probably not true," co-author Dr Martin Tovee, from Newcastle University, told BBC News.
Dr Tovee and his colleague, Dr Viren Swami, have previously researched what factors could alter BMI preferences, including hunger and the influence of the media.
"If you look at environ ments where food is scarce, people's preferences for body size in a potential partner are shifted. [The preference] appears to be much heavier compared to environ ments where there's plenty of food and a much more relaxed atmosphere," he explained.