Diet Secrets of Famous Politicians

Losing weight can be healthy, but it can also help a politician at the ballot box.

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Washington, D.C., is a far cry from Hollywood. But politicians are in the spotlight just as much as many starlets. So when a pol loses weight, watchers take notice.

[See a slideshow of political figures who have lost weight.]

Recently, Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill grabbed attention for dramatic weight loss, announcing her success on Twitter: "GOOAALLLLLLLL!! I did it! Lost 50 lbs." Bill Clinton has also famously switched to a vegan diet. Though he did so primarily for his heart health after two surgeries, the diet had the fringe benefit of helping him drop 20 pounds in advance of daughter Chelsea's 2010 wedding.

Many politicians may lose weight for their health, as with Clinton or former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who shed over 110 pounds after his doctor diagnosed him with type-2 diabetes. But dropping extra weight can have career benefits.

According to a study done this year by MIT political scientists, politicians who voters deem better-looking than their opponents may have an advantage at the polls, particularly among uninformed voters who watch a lot of television.

[See U.S. News' best diets for weight loss.]

The political community seems to understand this relationship. When Al Gore lost a few pounds in 2007, commentators speculated that he might again be running for office. And earlier this year, when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was reportedly mulling a run for the White House, some in the media asked whether his weight would work against him with voters.

Whether for health, looks, or success on Election Day, many politicians have undergone significant and public weight loss. Here is a slideshow sampling some of those political figures.