-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, May 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- For politicians,
slimmer waistlines may mean more votes on Election Day, a new study
"We found weight had a significant effect on voting behavior," study co-author Mark Roehling, a professor of human resources at Michigan State University in East Lansing, said in a university news release. "Additionally, the greater size disparity between candidates, the greater the vote share of the more slender candidate."
In their study, Roehling -- along with wife Patricia Roehling, a
psychology professor at Hope College in Holland, Mich. -- tracked
data from the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Senate elections.
They looked specifically at whether the candidates in 126
primary and general elections were normal-weight, overweight or
The research showed that obese men and women were less likely to
even make it through the primaries than normal-weight candidates.
In the actual Senate elections, overweight and obese male and
female candidates received a lower share of the vote total than
thinner opponents, the study found.
The research "provides evidence that the bias and discrimination
against the overweight and obese that has been documented in the
areas of employment, education, health care and social situations
also extends to the electoral process in the United States,"
The study also found that overweight women were underrepresented
on the ballot, but not overweight men.
This is consistent with previous studies showing that slightly
overweight women experience more discrimination than slightly
overweight men, the researchers said.
While the study couldn't prove cause and effect, the Roehlings
say the findings aren't all that surprising, since other studies
have found weight discrimination present in schools, business and
The study was published online in May in the journal
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases outlines the
health risks of being overweight.
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