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Obesity Prevalence and Voting Behaviors in the 2016 US Presidential Election

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We assessed the relationship between county-level prevalence of adult obesity and voting behaviors in the 2016 US presidential election.


Spatial autoregressive regression was performed to examine county-level obesity rate in relation to the vote margin for the Republican Party presidential candidate, defined as the percentage difference in votes received by the Republican presidential candidate and those received by the Democratic presidential candidate, adjusting for county sociodemographics and state fixed effects.


A quadratic association was found between county-level obesity rate and the vote margin for the Republican Party presidential candidate—the margin increased when obesity rate increased from 11.8% to 34.1%, but after reaching its peak of 36.1%, it started to decrease when obesity rate further increased to 47.9%.


Typically, health disparity has been considered as a political outcome, whereas its impact on political behavior is rarely examined. Our findings indicate obesity disparities may not only be influenced by political decisions but also affect political behavior. Future studies should elucidate the pathway linking obesity to voting behavior and track the long-term trend of this relationship.
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Keywords: health and politics; obesity; presidential election; voting behavior

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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