Trump’s cardiovascular, weight issues mirror most of America


After results of President Trump’s annual physical were released last month, pundits and comedians had their predictable fun, snarkily questioning the accuracy of his listed height (6 feet, 3 inches — which Politico reported is 1 inch taller than what appears on his New York state driver’s license) and weight (239 pounds).

After all, 1 more pound and the president’s body mass index (BMI) would be 30 — which the United States Centers for Disease Control lists as “obese” — rather than the merely “overweight” 29.9 that he officially registers on the BMI chart.

Nevertheless, Trump is among the estimated two-thirds of American adults who are either obese or overweight. Being overweight or obese puts a person at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and, according to the American Association for Cancer Research, 14 different types of cancer.

Of course, because BMI does not take into account body composition, it’s a notoriously unreliable tool for determining health, fitness and ideal body weight. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight (in kilograms) by height (in meters) squared. A BMI between 19 and 25 is considered healthy.

So, by the CDC’s calculations, Tim Tebow’s 6-foot-3-inch, 250-pound physique makes him obese.

Where the president falls on the BMI chart is irrelevant says cardiologist Dr. David Wolinsky of Cleveland Clinic Florida — especially when it comes to his cardiovascular health, for which Trump takes a daily cholesterol-lowering medication and over-the-counter aspirin.

“There’s no one test or measurement that we can point to and label a person healthy or unhealthy,” he said. “Rather, we consider a combination of factors.”

Wolinsky assesses patients’ cardiovascular risk factors in the following order:

  • Traditional risk factors (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, history of smoking, family history of cardiovascular disease)
  • Epigenetics (essentially, one’s own unique gene pattern — which the president’s physician, Dr. Ronny Jackson, casually referenced in ascribing Trump’s “overall excellent health,” despite poor dietary and exercise habits, to “[having] just great genes”)
  • Metabolic syndrome (this is an array of conditions — including high tryglycerides, high LDL cholesterol, high blood sugar, high insulin resistance and excess abdominal fat — that can have a ripple effect throughout one’s organs)

Jackson acknowledged recommending to Trump that he lose “10 to 15 pounds.”

But beyond what a doctor’s scale says, myriad research has shown that intra-abdominal — or “visceral” — fat carries risks to long-term health.

Visceral fat differs from subcutaneous fat — which is the visible, pinchable kind on the skin’s surface and settles on the lower portion of the torso, at the waist and hips. As long as a person is at a reasonable weight, subcutaneous fat rarely impacts overall health.

Conversely, visceral fat accumulates deep within the abdominal cavity, settles between vital internal organs, and affects how the entire body functions.

According to a recent article published by the Harvard University Medical School, “Research suggests that fat cells — particularly abdominal fat cells — are biologically active. It’s appropriate to think of fat as an endocrine organ or gland, producing hormones and other substances that can profoundly affect our health … [and] disrupt the normal balance and functioning of these hormones.”

So, how can one tell if one is at increased risk for visceral fat accumulation?

Experts say overweight people with a so-called “A shape” (upper belly bulge) accumulate more visceral fat than those with a “pear shape” (wide hips).

For those in the former category, take solace in knowing that the Harvard article also says “visceral fat yields fairly easily to exercise and diet.”

Wolinsky said Cleveland Clinic Florida believes strongly in “the Mediterranean diet, which is low in saturated fats, sugar and simple carbohydrates and emphasizes lean protein and fresh fruits and vegetables.”

According to Jackson, the notoriously exercise-averse Trump was more receptive to the dietary recommendations than the one for increased physical activity.

With this being national Heart Health Month, the president has an opportunity to set a great example for the tens of millions of overweight and obese Americans by taking his doctor’s recommendations to, well, heart.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community

Why car horns, planes and sirens might be bad for your heart
Why car horns, planes and sirens might be bad for your heart

The roar of a jet plane, the rumble of a big rig, that shrill scream from the siren of a speeding emergency vehicle: The common but loud noises that keep you awake at night and agitate you throughout the day may have a notable effect on your cardiovascular health, experts say. Researchers say noise pollution may increase the risk of heart disease,...
A cancer ‘vaccine’ is completely eliminating tumors in mice
A cancer ‘vaccine’ is completely eliminating tumors in mice

A new cancer treatment experiment at Stanford University that used immune-stimulators to target tumors in mice had remarkably encouraging results. After injecting a combination of two immune boosters directly into solid mouse tumors, the research team said the vaccination eliminated all traces of the specifically targeted cancer from the animal&rsquo...
Bacteria in milk, beef may be linked to rheumatoid arthritis
Bacteria in milk, beef may be linked to rheumatoid arthritis

Milk is good for bones, but joints are another story for some people, according to a new study. A strain of bacteria commonly found in milk and beef may be a trigger for developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in individuals who are genetically at risk, according to researchers at the University of Central Florida. The bacteria — mycobacterium avium...
The verdict is in on whether standing desks help you lose weight
The verdict is in on whether standing desks help you lose weight

Are standing desks really doing us any good? That question has divided workplaces since sitting started going out of fashion about five years ago. Our sedentary lifestyles were killing us, so standing, the thinking went, was the logical antidote. Sitting too long has been associated with diabetes, hypertension, some forms of cancer, anxiety and a generally...
My grandmother was Italian. Why aren’t my genes Italian?
My grandmother was Italian. Why aren’t my genes Italian?

Maybe you got one of those find-your-ancestry kits over the holidays. You’ve sent off your awkwardly collected saliva sample, and you’re awaiting your results. If your experience is anything like that of me and my mom, you may find surprises — not the dramatic “switched at birth” kind, but results that are really different...
More Stories