Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
No reasonable person (which automatically rules out his base) sees Donald Trump as a paragon of good health. The oldest person to enter the presidency, Trump maintains a lifestyle conspicuously absent of practices that might be labeled “health minded.” While he famously doesn’t drink coffee, smoke cigarettes or imbibe alcohol, Trump also doesn’t buy into all this whiny liberal garbage about physical fitness. As he’s repeatedly declared, totally without irony or self-awareness, he has magic genes that all but guarantee him a life that will only end when he wants it to.
As USA Today notes, this attitude “resonates in his policies on public health.” It’s why—in combination with a lusty hatred for Barack Obama—he has “relaxed nutritional standards on school lunches and he has yet to name any members of the president’s fitness council.” It’s what you get when you elect a president who brags about not eating pizza crust as if that’s equivalent to completing an Ironman without training.
Sure, to some extent, it’s all luck of the draw. Tomorrow is never promised, unless like Dick Cheney your heart has been replaced with a robot that runs on pure, unfiltered evil. But as physician Michael Roizen told USA Today, Trump certainly seems like someone who could blow any day. “From a medical standpoint,” Roizen said, “you would worry about that.”
Here are five reasons Trump may be a heart attack waiting to happen.
1. He eats a lot of mostly overcooked garbage.
In an interview, Trump once recalled enjoying “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen,” yet had trouble remembering exactly which country he’d bombed while eating that dessert. There are lots of theories on that slip, but one contributor might be the demonstrably obvious fact that he loves junk food far more than he ever pretended to love politics.
A Trump staffer told Axios that the “three staples” of Trump’s diet on the campaign trail were “Domino’s, KFC, and McDonald’s” and that “Big Macs were served on silver trays in his private jet” because, you know, classy. Candidate Trump posted photos of himself happily consuming a bucket of chicken and pensively eating Mickey D’s fries. He gave interviews with foreign news outletswhile scarfing down Burger King. (One cardiologist who saw Trump in the flesh during this period described him as looking like “Morgan Spurlock at the end of Super Size Me.”) His team touted this as proof of his Americanness, as if a daily diet taken right from the kids’ menu is something of virtue. “It goes with his authenticity,” Kellyanne Conway told the New York Times. “I don’t think Hillary Clinton would be eating Popeye’s biscuits and fried chicken.”
Trump eats poorly at the White House, too. The AP reports that Trump presses a button at his desk when he wants an ice-cold Coke delivered. His butler told the Times the ketchup-covered steaks Trump frequently consumes are so well done, they “rock on the plate” (notable since new studies suggest red meat, particularly when it’s well done, may be linked to not only cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease but also age-related dementia). Trump eats salad only when there’s a “slab” of meat next to it, and snacks regularly on “Lay’s potato chips and vanilla-flavored Keebler Vienna Fingers.” Three reporters from Time magazine dined with Trump once and noted that while guests are served normal portions, the kitchen is trained to bring Trump extra servings of unhealthy items from Thousand Island dressing to ice cream. When Axios asked a former aide if Trump eats fruit or nuts, the aide responded, “Never seen it.”
2. He doesn’t exercise and frequently seems winded.
A testament to Trump’s status as the most anti-science president of all time can be found in his own cockamamie theories about exercise, which seem based on the most advanced thinking from the 15th century. He actually believes that the human body has—stay with me here—a limited quantity of energy, and that if one is not careful, it can be used up. No, really, here’s a passage from a Trump biography by two Washington Post writers:
“After college, after Trump mostly gave up his personal athletic interests, he came to view time spent playing sports as time wasted. Trump believed the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted. So he didn’t work out. When he learned that John O’Donnell, one of his top casino executives, was training for an Ironman triathlon, he admonished him, ‘You are going to die young because of this.’”
Trump: Modern-day humoralist and wackadoodle.
As he stated at a 1997 press conference, Trump works out “as little as possible.” Which might not be the biggest deal if he didn’t seem to be in terrible shape. At G7, while other world leaders walked the streets of Sicily, Trump pulled up the rear in a golf cart. And if you were going to give him points for playing golf, don’t. He can’t be bothered to walk a single step while he’s golfing, and even drives his golf cart across the green.
3. He’s a stress case.
The pressures of the U.S. presidency famously cause office holders to gray and wrinkle after years in office. In Trump’s case, the amount of time spent at his resorts might serve as a counter to that phenomenon, were he not being stressed in other ways, including being investigated for possible involvement in a Russian plot to screw with the presidential elections.
Every other week emerging stories cite “sources close to the president” who describe him variously as “enraged,” “furious,” “frustrated,” and “increasinglyangry over the investigation.” He spends a surprising amount of time rage-tweeting and reportedly “yelling at television sets.” He’s been a quick-to-anger bully and hothead for his entire life, and the years haven’t mellowed him.
4. He’s chronically sleep-deprived.
Per the Daily Beast, a ghostwriter noted in 2004’s Think Like a Billionaire that Trump sleeps only “about four hours per night.” Trump reconfirmed this more recently, once when he claimed to have slept only 90 minutes before a Republican debate, and again during a Fox News visit in February. Other presidents have gotten by on scant rest during their time in the Oval Office, and roughly 1 percent of people do just fine on 4 to 6 hours of sleep a night. “A number of brilliant, driven people…function well with a bare amount of rest,” Timothy Egan has written. “Donald Trump is not one of them.”
Most of us need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night or we start acting like…well, Trump. Neurologist Chris Winter told USA Today that “cognitive tasks like spelling are impaired by poor sleep,” resulting in a little-known condition called “covfefe.” Other problems caused by lack of sleep include “bad decision making, inability to focus, irritability and impulsiveness.”
The National Sleep Foundation points to a study involving 3,000 adults over age 45, which found those who “slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night.” A 2016 study concluded lack of sleep can interfere with cardiac function. The cognitive decline of sleeping too little can be lasting, by the way. A study out in May from Marche Polytechnic University in Italy finds that in the long term, sleep-deprived brains start to eat themselves, which may explain why they’re linked to Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative illnesses.
5. He’s overweight, which matters in the context of all the other factors.
It’s a pervasive myth that being overweight is innately correlated with being unhealthy. Plenty of overweight people are healthy and there’s no shortage of thin people who are not well. But in the case of Trump, who takes such lousy care of himself in other ways, being overweight could contribute to poor health overall.
During the campaign, Trump lied, as is his way, about releasing his medical records. He ultimately released a letter—on Dr. Oz’s show—from his doctor claiming that he’s “6’3” tall and weighs 236 pounds.” Using those figures, the CDC’s body mass index calculates Trump’s BMI at just shy of 30, which puts him right on the line between overweight and obese. Which, coupled with his lifestyle choices, puts him at risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
And that’s only if you use those figures. There’s been lots of speculation by experts and based on previous reporting that Trump is actually much heavier—somewhere around 267 pounds. (In May, a CNN report cited a source who claimed Trump’s hatred for his new job—another issue that can impact health—has led to additional weight gain.) Politico also found that Trump’s New York State driver’s license lists his height at 6’2”, and photographic comparisons of Trump with people of verified height suggest he may be even shorter, perhaps a result of the shrinking we all experience starting around age 30, or perhaps just because he lies about pretty much everything ever.
In any case, the incongruities mean that Trump, who has made it his personal life mission to insult women’s bodies, is probably lying about his weight.
Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.
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