The more overweight the politicians in a government from the former Soviet Union are, the more likely that government is to be corrupt, a new study has found.

The Berlin-based media company Business New Europe IntelliNews conducted an amusing research, based on 299 facial images of 2017 cabinet ministers from the 15 post-Soviet states.

The researchers used a computer vision algorithm to estimate the body-mass index of the cabinet as a whole. The BMI was then compared to conventional measures of corruption, such as Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, the World Bank’s Control of Corruption worldwide governance indictor and the Index of Public Integrity.

The study showed that only 10 of the former Soviet leaders had a “normal” BMI, and none were underweight.

The research revealed that the most corrupt post-Soviet states are Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.  The states with the highest median estimated ministers’ BMI are Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine, while the countries with the lowest median estimated ministers’ BMI are Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Georgia.

“Countries with relatively more obese cabinet ministers tend to have a relatively less overweight population. Ironically, this suggests that there might be a health benefit to grand political corruption”, the researchers concluded.

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