London: Your face can reveal a lot about you - even body mass index.

Guodong Guo and colleagues at West Virginia University in Morgantown have developed an algorithm that can analyse a mugshot and predict that person's BMI, according to New Scientist.

BMI is a standard health metric that's equal to a person's weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of their height (in metres). Someone with a BMI over 30 is acknowledged as obese and below 18.5 as underweight.

The software assesses seven weight-related components in a face image, including the ratios of cheekbone width to jaw width, face length to cheekbone width and the average distance between eyebrow and eye.

They then ran the program across images of 14,500 faces of people with known BMIs. The predicted BMIs were mostly within two or three points of the person's actual BMI.

Guo said that tweaking the software to analyse more facial features should improve the results. He added that the software could be used in smart health applications, relating face images to BMI and associated health risks. Or on online dating sites, where it could help you assess the BMI and state of health of people you might date.


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