Curvy Figures and Big Brains

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Curvy Figures and Big Brains

Cookbook author and TV personality Nigella Lawson has both a curvy figure and a degree from Oxford.

Tony Barson/WireImage/Getty Images

Actress Christina Hendricks has become a modern icon of full-figured beauty since coming on the scene as Joan Harris, the voluptuous secretary-turned-business partner on TV's "Mad Men." And her character's rise in the business world might have had some help from genes. Research shows that curvy women are more intelligent than their thinner sisters.

In a 2007 study of 16,000 women and girls, researchers at the Universities of Pittsburgh and California found that women whose waists were roughly 70 percent of the diameter of their hips outscored women with higher waist-to-hip (WHR) ratios on cognitive tests. The study's authors claim that this strange phenomenon may be caused by higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are typically stored around the hips and also contribute to brain growth [sources: BBC, Childs].

Experts point out that the difference in cognitive abilities between the two groups is very small: 3.6 to 7 percent. And of course, many women's WHR ratios change as they get older without any decrease in intelligence [source: Childs].

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