While none of the men found the most extreme bodies at either end of the spectrum attractive, those in the ‘stress’ group showed a marked preference for those on the heavier side.

Lead author Dr Viren Swami said when socioeconomic or personal circumstances are threatening or uncertain, men go for ‘more mature’ physical characteristics.

The researchers believe this is because men subconsciously think these women will also be mature in personality and better able to handle a crisis.