ATTRACTIVE women do not mind overweight men as long as their wallets are fat, according to a new - albeit obvious - study by a New York academic.
A Columbia University researcher created a mathematical formula to calculate the exact trade-off between billfold and belt-size that both men and women make in choosing their partner
According to economist Pierre-Andre Chiappori, single people looking to get hitched rate each other's eligibility by assessing two traits - physical and socioeconomic attractiveness.
Other factors, like a sense of humour or a kind soul, play a smaller role in how men and women assess each other on the dating market, according to Chiappori and his co-authors.
Both men and women prefer slim, wealthy spouses to poor, fat mates, according to data collected from 667 white American couples by the Panel Study of Income Dynamics.
But fatter men and women do not have to settle for less desirable partners.
According to Chiappori's formula, men compensate for flab with cold, hard cash, while women make up for an extra layer of pudge with an extra year of education.
For every 10 per cent increase in their body mass index, or BMI, single men must increase their annual salary by 2 per cent to compete in the same dating pool, according to Chiappori's working paper, "Fatter Attraction". BMI is calculated by dividing a person's weight by his height.
A 180cm man who weighs 80kg - just about the perfect BMI - and earns an annual salary of $100,000, for instance, would have to get a $2000 raise if he packed on about 9kg and did not want to downgrade the level of women he could date.
A hefty woman can make up for her less-than-perfect body by being more educated.
If a single woman who is 170cm and weighs 65kg gains 3kg, she must have one year more of education to remain at the same level of attractiveness to potential suitors.
"Our findings tell us that physical appearance is not such a big deal, and it's easy to compensate for," Chiappori said.
Read more about the mathematical secrets to weight, money and love at the New York Post.