London - Men have always been attracted to women with a nice pair of legs. But it now seems that the opposite is also true.
A study of almost 800 women found that they too are attracted to leg length.
However, it’s bad news for those who take after lanky footballer Peter Crouch because women only want legs half an inch longer than average - for example, a 36in (91cm) leg for a man who is 6ft (1.8m) tall.
The University of Cambridge researchers suggested that men with long legs are attractive to women because they appear healthy and wealthy. Women may not realise it but their subconscious tells them men with short legs have been stunted by poverty and lack of nutrition, they said.
Shorter-legged men are also at greater risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and dementia.
The women in the study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, were shown images of men with an average height of 5ft 9in. The men’s limbs were digitally altered, with leg length increased and decreased in increments of one inch, up to three inches either way.
The women were then asked to rate the attractiveness of the different images out of seven. The optimum leg length was found to be just half an inch longer than average. Arm length had no effect on male attractiveness, three separate experiments in the study showed.
The study’s lead author, Thomas Versluys, said: "We found that women find male computer-generated imagery figures most attractive when their legs are slightly longer than average, and when the ratio between the lower and upper limb segment is average. However, we also found that arm length has no effect on attractiveness.
"This casts light on the importance of limb proportions during human evolution, suggesting in particular that leg length had an effect on reproductive success and that it evolved as signal of mate value."
He added: "In reality, of course, people are never identical and overall attractiveness is the result of a vast number of interacting factors."