WASHINGTON, D.C. — Although Donald Trump’s personal physician declared him to be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” a new study on presidential health says that title should actually go to Ohio’s Rutherford B. Hayes.
The Fremont, Ohio native who served as the nation’s 19th president from 1877 to 1881 had a healthy diet, was not obese and abstained from tobacco use and alcohol abuse, said the study titled “From Best to Worst: Ranking the Health of U.S. Presidents.”
It rated Trump the 26th healthiest president, behind Zachary Taylor, who died in office from digestive problems. It declared Grover Cleveland was the least healthy president due to “a very unhealthy diet, a complete lack of physical exercise and a penchant for both tobacco and alcohol abuse.”
“The health of U.S. presidents has varied dramatically since George Washington first took the oath of office in 1789 while sterile, half deaf and with only a single tooth,” said the report, published by a consumer website that provides information about Medicare insurance policies. “Public awareness of the importance of health and well-being has increased in recent decades, and so has the scrutiny of modern U.S. presidents over their physical health.”
The website decided to review presidential health as a Presidents Day feature after White House physician Ronny Jackson spent an hour last month answering reporters’ questions about Trump’s yearly physical, said the website’s public relations director, Ryan Shevin.
To determine which presidents were most and least healthy, researchers from the website’s operator, TZ Health Media, interviewed 27 historians and doctors and looked at a number of indicators including diet, exercise habits, sleep habits, and chronic illnesses.
They totaled scores on a 100-point scale, with points deducted from the total score based on the presence and severity of health problems. The average health score was 67. Hayes scored 86, Trump scored 62 and Cleveland scored 37.
“According to our research, Hayes did not have any significant health problems other than injuries sustained during wartime,” said Shevin, who described the recipes on Hayes’ presidential website as “simple and healthy.”
The study ranked Barack Obama No. 2 in presidential health because of his healthy lifestyle. It said being an “on-again, off-again” smoker was “his only real health threat,” and noted that he exercised regularly and was “very rigorous about his diet,” eating nothing that contained sugar.
“It obviously helps that Obama is still just 56 years old and has not encountered some of the age-related health issues that many other presidents did,” the study said.
Trump lost points because “his presidential physical exam revealed that he is borderline obese based solely on BMI (and is known to drink up to 12 Diet Cokes per day). Both his cholesterol and blood pressure levels are a bit high. But the oldest president ever to take office has never had any serious health scares and was declared by his doctor to be in ‘excellent health,’” the study said.
More tidbits from the report:
• Abraham Lincoln was an accomplished wrestler and is believed to have only lost one time in around 300 matches. He’s a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
• Willam Howard Taft commonly ate a 12-ounce steak for breakfast.
• James Garfield enjoyed a hot cup of squirrel soup.
• Herbert Hoover was such a fast eater that White House kitchen staff would take bets on how long it would take him to finish a meal.
• Bill Clinton loved McDonald’s and would often stop there during a jog.
• Electric lighting was installed in the White House during Benjamin Harrison’s term. He and his wife refused to touch the light switches for fear of being electrocuted. They often slept with the lights on.
• Ronald Reagan began eating large numbers of jelly beans in an effort to stop smoking.
• Woodrow Wilson played more than 1,000 rounds of golf while in office.
• George H.W. Bush may have slept the least of any president. He often went to bed at 2 a.m. and woke up at 4 a.m.