Did Oxford University Claim That Women With Big Butts Give Birth To Smarter Children?

Misleading Social

We recently discovered a series of posts going viral around the same topic across social media, which claimed to be related to a research conducted by the University of Oxford. The claim however seemed unsubstantiated and was in turn made into memes when posting. 

Our first sighting of the viral claim was on Instagram, posted by an account named Zipturf on 29th June, claiming “women with bigger butts give birth to smarter children, according to a study from the University of Oxford”. This claim had been shared among number of other users as well, and below is another Instagram post.

LinkArchived

Considering the post used the University of Oxford as their source, we felt it was necessary to investigated. 

FACT CHECK

We began our fact check by looking into other posters who had made similar claims around the Oxford research and women’s butts in relation to childbirth. Our search revealed that several others had made the same claim, either using the same post above or by creating a different post altogether but claiming the same thing as can be seen below:

We next looked into the two images posted in the viral claim, by running a Google Reverse Image search on each image. The first search of the image at the top of the viral post revealed that the image was first run in an article published in January 2018 by a site named truthinsideofyou.org. The article, titled A Big Butt Is A Healthy Butt: Women With BIG Butts Are Smarter And Healthier, did not reference Oxford University or any other source for the information, nor does it make any reference to having smarter children. A screenshot of the article can be seen below:

A further search revealed that a similar article was published in a Canadian news site Global News in October 2015 with the following information:

It used to be that the ideal woman possessed beauty and brains. Now we can add big butt to the list. A review out of Oxford University’s Churchill Hospital found that women with a pronounced posterior are healthier and smarter. Researchers discovered that excess adipose tissue in the lower region of the body, specifically the thighs and butt area, acts as a barrier against heart disease, diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses. “The protective properties of the lower-body fat depot have been confirmed in many studies conducted in subjects with a wide range of age, BMI and co-morbidities,” the researchers wrote in the International Journal of Obesity.

While the article, titled “Study shows women with big butts are healthier, smarter”, claims the information was derived from a review published by Oxford’s Churchill Hospital, it does not provide any references or the title of the review. 

When searching for the second reference made in the article from the International Journal of Obesity, we discover that Oxford University did in fact publish their research on the topic in this journal on 12th January 2010 and the quote mentioned in the Global News article was in fact directly derived from the published article. The paper, titled Gluteofemoral body fat as a determinant of metabolic health is available online and freely accessible. There is no reference in the article about intelligence, childbirth or that women with large butts produce intelligent children. Hence, the entire chain of articles may have misinterpreted or misrepresented the research.  

We next ran a Google Reverse Image search for the second image in the viral post which revealed it was a freely available stock image and had been used several times in other articles as can be seen below:

Further, other fact checking organizations declared the stories fake previously: Africa Check ran a fact check in May 2019 and Snopes did the same as far back as 2016.

We contacted Oxford University and forwarded the Instagram post to clarify if any such study had been conducted by the university, and learnt there was not any known study related to the viral claim. In addition, we contacted a specialist from National Hospital of Colombo and inquired if any pattern as such as been observed and learnt that there wasn’t any scientific evidence to conclusively state that women with bigger butts give birth to smarter children.

CONCLUSION

Based on our research, it is clear that the 2010 Oxford research merely claims that gluteofemoral fat stores conferred more health benefits than visceral fat. This has no reference to women being more intelligent nor their children being intelligent. Hence, we declare the viral posts misleading and false.

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Title:Did Oxford University Claim That Women With Big Butts Give Birth To Smarter Children?

Fact Check By: Shanaya Seneviratne 

Result: Misleading

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