COLUMN: A presidential race where junk food, pneumonia has entered the conversation.
NEW YORK: There’s welcome news for all overweight, ‘marginally’ fat, old people of the world – past 70 especially, who love to eat junk food like cheeseburgers and pizza, steaks, hoard ice cream at home – eat a pint every day; with talking as the prime source of exercise: you’re really in “excellent physical health.”
No, really. You really are. At least the 70-year-old Donald Trump is, according to his physician, despite his over indulgence for unhealthy food, which would make any nutritionist go pale with shock.
Dr. Harold N. Bornstein has not only given Trump, who is 6 feet 3 inches (1.9 meters) tall and weighs 236 pounds (107 kg.), a clean chit of health, but termed him in “excellent physical health.” For the record, Trump’s body mass index is 29.5, which according to US measurements is within the ‘overweight’ range, and shy .5 of the shameful ‘obese’ mark of 30.0.
So, all you tall and short fat slobs out there, rest easy on the couch (change your scales or go Full Monty while weighing in, if you find yourself at the horrendous 30 BMI mark). Continue with your binge watching of those zombie or manners episodes, don’t curb your unbridled love for junk food, sip merrily on your Diet Coke (Trump’s preferred drink, as he’s a teetotaler). Yeah, sure. Stretch your legs a bit, hit the pause on that Roku remote, to grab that pint of Haagen-Dazs. Trump loves cherry vanilla flavor, by the way. Good luck finding that in the sorbet and ice cream sections though.
Poor First Lady Michelle Obama. All that hard work for the last eight years at growing vegetables in the White House backyard. She might be having nightmares of that much loved green patch of hers turning into a wasteland; a steady stream of determined pizza and takeout delivery boys running rough shod over it, if Trump makes it to the White House and ruminates late night policy decisions munching on snacks.
And let’s not forget the old warhorse billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the banisher of big sodas in New York City. He must be in a sad state today. Ruing the day he took the decision not to run for president; shuddering at the thought of a liter of coke with McDonald’s Big Macs as favorite lunch menu at school cafeterias, courtesy of Trump’s lifestyle emulated by the youth of the nation.
To be fair to Trump, not only doesn’t he imbibe any liquor, he doesn’t touch any tobacco products too. Slim and fat people alike would be well served to follow that lifestyle too.
If Trump seems to be in rollicking good health, in “excellent physical health”, then the 68-year-old Hillary Clinton, who has been afflicted by a bout of bacterial pneumonia from which she is convalescing, has been certified by her doctor, Dr. Lisa Bardack, as in “excellent mental condition” and “healthy and fit to serve.”
However, it’s hard to get rid of the images of Clinton stumbling, almost collapsing as she tried to get back into her car, from a 9/11 memorial in New York City.
The issue of Clinton’s health is likely to remain a lingering issue, a voter concern. Voters would also be concerned if Trump, with his vicarious junk-food lifestyle, would be able to withstand the pressures of being president.
On the campaign trail, both Clinton and Trump have amazed people around the world with their energy and resilience. It seems both need only two hours of sleep daily, look rejuvenated thereafter, fresh, exuberant and dynamic at every public meet around the country. Their energy seems to be more than 40-year-old men and women.
How do they do it?
But more importantly, can they do it consistently for the next eight years if need be and be able to guide the US to greater heights?
Both Clinton and Trump can take a leaf from the prime minister of India Narendra Modi’s lifestyle book. Modi, who turns 66 on Saturday, has mesmerized the world with his amazing physical prowess while not even eating during the days he observes a fast.
Modi, by his own confession, sleeps for only three to four hours, and yet is energetic through the day. His secret: Yoga and Pranayama, which he does daily. He explains: “Whenever I feel tired, I just practice deep breathing and that refreshes me again!”
Trump might also want to reprise what the German Chancellor Angela Merkel did to cut down on her BMI. The 62-year-old Merkel struck off some of her favorite food, like cheese and sausage sandwiches and biscuits off her daily diet, substituting it with sticks of raw carrots and red and green pepper.
Of course, if Trump were to scoff at Merkel’s diet change, he can take consolation from the fact that the former chancellor Helmut Kohl was much loved by Germans for his gourmand ways, was considered as “harmoniously obese”, which perhaps translates in the world of non-sobriety as being a “cheerful drunk.”
For now, despite some medical records being shared by both Clinton and Trump, an Indian American ophthalmologist and entrepreneur has thrown an open challenge, or as he termed it “a put-up-or-shut-up cardiovascular challenge to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.”
Dr. Sreedhar Potarazu, who is the founder of VitalSpring Technologies Inc., a software company focused on providing employers with applications to empower them to become more sophisticated purchasers of health care, and founder and chairman of WellZone, a social platform for driving consumer engagement in health, posed these questions to both presidential candidates, in a blog post on Fox News:
“Are you getting in your 10,000 steps a day? Or, at the very least, are you getting 150 minutes of exercise each week? If your answer is yes, are you willing to prove it?
“I challenge both of you to wear a Fitbit or some other fitness tracking device for the next eight weeks and let the American people monitor your physical activity.
“You want to be president? Prove to us that you’re physically able to handle the job.”
In his blog post, Potarazu calls both candidates old. He says ‘stress’, along with unhealthy dietary habits make Trump a candidate for a heart attack, while Clinton’s health records, especially the effects of a past concussion she suffered, is of concern.
It’s unlikely Clinton and Trump might actually take on the challenge by Potarazu. Prove themselves via YouTube like the thousands who took on the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’.
But one thing is for sure: the health of the two candidates is going to be watched carefully for many, many days, months and years.
(Sujeet Rajan is Editor-in-Chief, The American Bazaar. Follow him @SujeetRajan1)