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Why are Trump voters so fat?

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What are the fattest states in the U.S.?

It’s a close tie between South Carolina, West Virginia, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana. They showed significantly higher percentages of fat adults, on average, than other states, as measured by a U.S. Centers for Disease Control study, published in the June 15 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

And the slimmest states? By far they are Colorado, California and Hawaii. On average, measured by body mass index, they are 67.8% slimmer than the fat states. And when you break the demographic groupings down into “Metropolitan” and “Nonmetropolitan,” the latter—rural folks—are consistently much fatter than their city counterparts. Moreover, “men and women with college degrees had lower obesity prevalence compared with those with less education,” which is just about what you’d expect in a comparison of rural folks (who are less educated) and city folks.

See a pattern? I bet you do. Expressed in more political terms, Trump’s rural, red state, Bible Belt Republicans are fat, while Democratic voters in blue states are nice and fit.

Now, before I get accused of being fat-phobic, let me assure you that my vision of America is inclusive; our great country is equally home to fat people as to healthy people. I have plenty of fat friends and relatives, and I love them no less than I do thin people.

But obesity comes at a cost, and I’m not just talking about the increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, stroke and so on, which the CDC defines as “obesity-associated chronic diseases.” That’s bad enough, but obesity also is associated with “poorer mental health outcomes,” says the CDC. These “poorer mental health outcomes” include clinical depression, anxiety and mood disorders,” the CDC finds. In fact, the 25% of all U.S. adults with mental illness also tend to suffer from obesity and its related “chronic diseases.”

The CDC finds that levels of mental illness are highest in precisely the red states that voted for Trump. In fact, the familiar map of red states-blue states almost exactly matches up with the map of more mentally ill states.

Mentally ill states are darker blue

Republican states are red

My point is that Trump voters tend, by medical definition, to suffer more frequently and more acutely from clinical depression, anxiety and mood disorders.” This could easily account for their voting patterns. We want voters who are educated, informed, healthy and discerning—not frightened, pessimistic and irrational. We want voters who can understand the consequences of the way they vote. We want voters who are smart enough to analyze issues, who know the difference between truth and lies, who can perceive when they’re being deceived with fake information fed them by con-man politicians. If you’re depressed, anxious and moody, you’re less likely to be smart enough to make choices that require critical thinking skills.

In fact, Trump and his Republican cohorts pander to the anxieties of rural fat people, with descriptions of immigrants as “infesting” America, of Mexicans being “criminals and rapists,” of Central American immigrants being MS-13, of Hillary Clinton working with terrorists and Obama being a secret Muslim. None of those things is true, obviously, but a poor, fat, struggling rural person, burdened by low income, poor health, and obsessed with the suspicion that he or she is frowned upon by wealthier, better educated and healthier urban “elites,” is more susceptible to believing these lies.

What can we do to induce Trump voters to become healthier? In the short run, nothing. The CDC and other healthcare organizations are constantly putting out information on how to lose weight and eat better, but this information does not appear to be penetrating the brains of red staters. Or they’re choosing to disbelieve it—perhaps the very reason that Trump encourages them not to trust science. Every time a Trump voter scarfs down a plate of Bic Macs and fries, washed down with Big Gulps of sugary soda, he or she gets less healthy, more mentally deranged, and more Republican. In fact, given the data we now have, it’s possible to speak of two political alignments in America: not red vs. blue states, but obese, morbidly unhealthy Republicans vs. healthy, fit Democrats.

I know which group I’m in and prefer to be in. And to be honest, I can’t imagine anyone voluntarily willing to be in the obese, sick group. Would you, if you had a choice? And maybe that gets to the bottom of the mystery of why these Trump voters support a man who is so inimical to their own self-interest. With their fat guts, diabetes and mental illnesses, they’re giving a big “middle finger” to the “experts” and “elites” who tell them there’s something wrong with them, even thought the “experts” are trying to save their lives. It’s sad, pathetic and bizarre, but there you have it: fat Trump Republicans, killing themselves with their unhealthy lifestyles, and blaming healthy people for their problems.

Have a happy, fit, healthy weekend! Burn those calories! Back Monday.

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