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Are overweight politicians less trustworthy?
In the former Soviet Union, obese governments are seen as more corrupt
Graphic detail
Jul 30th 2020
IN THE SOUTHERN English town of High Wycombe, the MP, mayor and councillors are publicly weighed every year in the town centre, in a self-described attempt to deter them from “gaining weight at taxpayers’ expense”. Cheers erupt if a lawmaker has shed a few pounds; boos await those who have put any on. The centuries-old tradition is conducted largely in jest, but the townsfolk might be on to something.
The more overweight the government, the more corrupt the country, according to a new study of 15 post-Soviet states. The study’s author, Pavlo Blavatskyy of Montpellier Business School in France, used an algorithm to analyse photographs of almost 300 cabinet ministers and estimate their body-mass index (BMI), a measure of obesity. He found that the median BMI of a country’s cabinet is highly correlated with its level of corruption, as measured by indices compiled by the World Bank and Transparency International (see chart).
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