After Donald Trump had his first physical exam since taking office, his physician, Dr. Ronny Jackson, reported that not only is Trump a “stable genius” (his words, not ours!) but that he’s in “excellent health,” attempting to neutralize any concerns that the American people should have regarding the president’s physical and mental well-being.
Dr. Jackson revealed that Trump’s sole health concern surrounds his weight, reporting that he weighs 239 pounds at 6’3″, which makes him clinically overweight for his height, per current body mass index guidelines. Dr. Jackson mentioned that Trump was looking to lose 10 to 15 pounds in the next year through exercise and working with White House chefs to eat a more balanced diet, otherwise reporting that the 45th president is in “excellent” physical health.
The social media masses were quick to speculate that Dr. Jackson might be lying about Trump’s weight, sparking a “girther” movement online of conspiracy theorists who flat-out don’t believe Trump’s physician is telling the truth and that he must weigh more.
To be clear, we’re not fat-shaming Trump no matter how much he actually weighs. Despite the rampant fatphobia in our society, weight often has very little to do with a person’s overall health. But we do have a problem with not being able to trust members of Trump’s administration to be forthcoming and honest about information being rolled out to the American public.
After Dr. Jackson signed off on Trump’s health, doctors outside the White House commented on how incredulous it seems that Trump could truly be in excellent health. Dr. David Maron, the director of preventive cardiology at Stanford University’s medical school, expressed concern about Trump’s high cholesterol levels to The New York Times, saying that it’s “alarming” that his LDL cholesterol level is 143, when he’s on a medication that should theoretically lower it to a healthier level of 100. When asked if Trump is the picture of health as painted by Dr. Jackson, Dr. Maron bluntly said, “God, no.”
Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist at the Scripps Research Institute, echoed similar sentiments, saying, “That’s a really high LDL. We’re talking about a 70-plus-year-old man who is obese and doesn’t exercise. Just looking at the lab value, you would raise a big red flag.” He added, “I would never use the words ‘excellent health.’ How you could take these indices and say excellent health? That is completely contradicted.”
This is exactly the problem — how are we supposed to know what we can believe if multiple doctors outside the White House are directly contradicting what Trump’s physician is telling us?
Of course, any other physician commenting on Trump’s health can’t truly paint a full picture, since it was only Dr. Jackson who administered his exam and conducted all the necessary tests and analyses. And though weight is not a concrete measure of a person’s holistic health, it’s alarming that we can’t trust even a simple report like this one, because it’s par for the course for this administration.
According to The Washington Post, Trump has made false or misleading claims more than 2,000 times since taking office in January 2017. It’s not completely unreasonable to think that the results of his physical are just another lie among the rest.
Other than his weight, Dr. Jackson noted that Trump’s cardiac health is “excellent,” saying, “He doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t have diabetes — a lot of the traditional risk factors he doesn’t have. And so I think those things, in combination with the excellent cardiac results that we got from the exercise stress test, I think, are very reassuring.” But a high LDL level indicates that he actually isn’t in excellent health, at least not completely.
Dr. Jackson made another eyebrow-raising remark when explaining how Trump, who has mostly sedentary habits and a poor diet, could be perceived as perfectly healthy. He said, “It is called genetics…Some people have just great genes. I told the president that if he had a healthier diet over the last 20 years, he might live to be 200 years old.” We’re…skeptical.
While we don’t condone snarky or fatphobic responses about Trump’s weight, we can’t help but feel concerned if he somehow convinced Dr. Jackson to stretch the truth about his overall physical fitness. And it’s one thing to doubt claims made by a member he cherry-picked as part of his administration, but to doubt the reports of an actual medical doctor? That’s downright terrifying.
If Trump is capable of lying about something as personal (yet clearly and blatantly visible) as his weight, it makes us wonder what else he is lying about. And this is not okay. Voters and American citizens have every right to question the physical and mental condition of the person running our country.
Presidential physical exams are nothing new, nor is the public release of the results. But plenty of things about Trump’s presidency are unprecedented, and his erratic temperament, unpredictable nature, and penchant for spinning the truth certainly give us pause. We need to be able to trust that our president is telling us the truth, and it seems his track record indicates too many examples to the opposite — it’s unnerving, to say the very least.