Why republicans are more overweight than democrats

You can twist and turn it either way you want, the pattern is unmistakable. The states having the highest obesity rates also voted Republican in the past presidential elections. Close to the top are Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Indiana. And these findings have been consistently replicated for a decade now, which is not too common in psychology.

While political leaning is predictive of weight problems at the state level, this connection could well be due to other factors, such as education level, poverty, or ethnic group. When such factors were excluded in a study of US counties, political orientation still emerged as a strong predictor of obesity rates.

It may sound weird, but conservatives typically have more ancient farmer genes (love of tradition, routine, hard-working, family-oriented) and Democrats have more frequently ancient hunter-gatherer genes. Hunter-gatherers typically have an ectomorph body types, farmers an endomorph body type. Mesomorph would be most typical for evolutionary herder types, who are probably more evenly distributed on both sides of the political spectrum.

Ectomorphs put on weight less easily than endomorphs. The irony here is that Republicans/farmer types are typically higher in conscientiousness than the average forager type/liberal, i.e. they are more likely to be able to keep on fasting or dieting. However, their body type predisposes them to put on weight more easily.

If this hypothesis sounds weird, it’s perfectly testable: republicans = more endomorphs, democrats = more ectomorphs.

These tendencies can be explained by farmers vs forager lifestyles. Farmer types are keener on owning their own property and build fences and are more sedentary in general. They are more likely to eat at regular mealtimes, but more traditionally (value that family recipe handed down by great granny).

Foragers on the other hand have no instinct to build houses, nor do they consider the land they live on as their property and they are more likely to leave their families and palace of origin to settle elsewhere. They eat more irregularly and include a much wider variety of foods, in particular plant-based.

There are many studies about food choices and republicans consistently choose the higher-calorie options, with more carbs, fat, meat and fewer vitamins and veggies.

My hypothesis would make several predictions about republicans and democrats, that can be empirically tested. Democrats should

  • Have ectomorphs body types more often
  • Eat more irregularly
  • Be more open to new and international foods
  • Have gastrointestinal problems more often (IBS, lactose and gluten intolerance)

The last point is particularly severe in neurodiverse people (mostly foragers types: ASD, ADHD, gifted), who suffer frequently from food allergies and gastrointestinal problems. If this correlation holds, it would also predict that democrats are neurodiverse more often and typically are picky eaters in childhood (a common finding among neurodiverse people).

For more information on the foragers-farmer hypothesis check out my book:

Originally published at http://the-big-ger-picture.blogspot.com on May 30, 2021.