President Trump and America's Diet

Presidents are known for a lot – but healthy eating usually isn't on their list of positive accomplishments.  Despite the fact that President 45 doesn't have a particularly clean diet, nutrition needs to become a bigger part of his health policies moving forward.

Presidents, Diets, and the Need for a Better Precedent

A president's diet might seem like a small, personal, and rather inconsequential detail, but it says a lot about his focus on health, nutrition, and overall well-being.  Unfortunately, America's demise of healthy diets directly parallels the decline in nutritious diets by our presidents.

Check out this list of presidents' favorite foods by Fresh n' Lean, and you'll notice that tastes have changed over the years.  Early presidents craved things like tomatoes and eggs, crackers and water, cheese, omelets, apples, and the occasional macaroon.  Fast-forward to the last few presidents, and the menu includes items like waffles, Jelly Bellies, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and extra well done steak.

A favorite indulgence may not be indicative of a bad diet, but the current president's diet, as a whole, is a little worrisome. 

While President Trump's diet has reportedly improved some over the last year – as a result of his well publicized physical and health check-up earlier this year – much has been written about his food preferences and eating habits.  Those close to Trump say his diet consists of fast food and high-calorie meals.  It's even been said that his major food groups include McDonald's, KFC, pizza, and Diet Coke.

According to Corey Lewandowski, Trump's former campaign manager who wrote the book Let Trump Be Trump, the president would often go 14 to 16 hours without eating, followed by a McDonald's dinner of two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, and a chocolate milkshake.  For those tracking at home, that's a sudden intake of 2,430 calories.

Lewandowski also says Trump frequently skips breakfast and doesn't eat the bread on his sandwiches.  Steak – his favorite food – is ordered extra-well done with a side of ketchup.  And though he doesn't drink stimulants like tea, coffee, or alcohol, he guzzles down a dozen Diet Cokes per day.

As in most ways, Trump is an outlier as a president.  Recent former presidents like Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter all had, on the whole, relatively healthy diets.  Even though a diet is a highly personal thing, there's a case to be made that the president must lead by example in this area, as in others.

Getting Americans to Eat Healthier

The issue of getting Americans to eat healthier certainly doesn't hinge on President Trump, but he can play a catalytic role in improving this aspect of America's health.

Here are a few thoughts and ideas on the topic:

  1. Let the First Lady Take Charge

Unless something drastic changes in Trump's diet, he probably isn't the best person to have a direct voice in improving the diet and nutrition of Americans.  It would be difficult for others to take him seriously.  But there is someone close to the president who could: Melania Trump, the FLOTUS.

While Melania is purposeful about keeping her personal life private, we do know she's extremely health-conscious.  She tries to eat seven pieces of fruit per day, which offer a complete set of vitamins and minerals for her hair and skin.  She also opts for nutrient-filled smoothies and fiber-rich oatmeal, along with targeted supplements to keep her healthy and vibrant.  When she does indulge, Melania goes for a piece of dark chocolate or a scoop of ice cream.

Taking a page out of former FLOTUS Michelle Obama's playbook, Melania could get involved in her husband's public health policies and encourage healthy eating, proper dieting, and even responsible fitness regimens.

  1. Continue Making School Lunches Healthier

According to the Hechinger Report, kids from low-income families living along the Mississippi Delta are genuinely excited about the healthy food options they get at school – such as apples and carrots – since they don't get them at home.

For some students, the only healthy whole grains, fruits, and vegetables they get come from supplement food programs like school meals.  Keeping these meals healthy will give students the opportunity to receive proper nutrition and set a foundation for healthier cravings in the future.

  1. Incentivize Healthy Eating

For an entire year, officials in one county of Massachusetts ran a study where they gave certain food stamp-users 30 cents back for every dollar they spent on fruits and vegetables.  When compared to families who weren't part of the program, the rewarded families reportedly ate one quarter cup more of fruits and vegetables per day.  They also spent $1.19 more on produce each month – a modest yet noticeable increase.

Is this a sign that the proper incentives could persuade individuals – particularly those in low-income brackets – to eat healthier?

Health journalist Francie Diep believes, "Policymakers could amplify the effects of reward programs with disincentives against buying unhealthy foods.  A mathematical model has shown that disallowing food stamps to be used to buy sugary drinks would reduce rates of diabetes and heart disease."

  1. Make Health Diets a Real Priority

It's one thing for a president to say he supports a healthy diet and proper nutrition.  It's something else entirely for that same president to make these actual priorities.  When you look at the numbers and understand the consequences, it becomes easier to see the significance.

"It's hard to fathom how much our country actually spends on health care: currently US$3.2 trillion per year, or nearly 1 in 5 dollars in the entire U.S. economy," writes Dariush Mozaffarian, professor of nutrition at Tufts University.  "That's almost $1,000 each month for every man, woman and child in the country, exceeding most people's budgets for food, gas, housing or other common necessities."

It doesn't stop there.  Diet-related conditions account for a number of health expenditures and lead to more than $125 billion in lost productivity and other indirect costs.

"At the same time, health care costs cripple the productivity and profits of American businesses," Mozafarrian continues.  "From small to large companies, crushing health care expenditures are a major obstacle to growth and success.  Warren Buffet recently called rising medical costs the 'tapeworm of American economic competitiveness.'  Our food system is feeding the tapeworm."

Putting It All Together

When you look at the current state of diet and nutrition in America, it's clear that Americans don't have equal access to healthy, affordable food.  Children, especially, are at risk of having improper diets.  Despite the fact that people are told to eat fruits and vegetables, the government programs subsidize processed food ingredients.

In addition to eating healthier, President Trump needs to make this a national policy priority and focus on setting a better precedent for the American people.

Presidents are known for a lot – but healthy eating usually isn't on their list of positive accomplishments.  Despite the fact that President 45 doesn't have a particularly clean diet, nutrition needs to become a bigger part of his health policies moving forward.

Presidents, Diets, and the Need for a Better Precedent

A president's diet might seem like a small, personal, and rather inconsequential detail, but it says a lot about his focus on health, nutrition, and overall well-being.  Unfortunately, America's demise of healthy diets directly parallels the decline in nutritious diets by our presidents.

Check out this list of presidents' favorite foods by Fresh n' Lean, and you'll notice that tastes have changed over the years.  Early presidents craved things like tomatoes and eggs, crackers and water, cheese, omelets, apples, and the occasional macaroon.  Fast-forward to the last few presidents, and the menu includes items like waffles, Jelly Bellies, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and extra well done steak.

A favorite indulgence may not be indicative of a bad diet, but the current president's diet, as a whole, is a little worrisome. 

While President Trump's diet has reportedly improved some over the last year – as a result of his well publicized physical and health check-up earlier this year – much has been written about his food preferences and eating habits.  Those close to Trump say his diet consists of fast food and high-calorie meals.  It's even been said that his major food groups include McDonald's, KFC, pizza, and Diet Coke.

According to Corey Lewandowski, Trump's former campaign manager who wrote the book Let Trump Be Trump, the president would often go 14 to 16 hours without eating, followed by a McDonald's dinner of two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, and a chocolate milkshake.  For those tracking at home, that's a sudden intake of 2,430 calories.

Lewandowski also says Trump frequently skips breakfast and doesn't eat the bread on his sandwiches.  Steak – his favorite food – is ordered extra-well done with a side of ketchup.  And though he doesn't drink stimulants like tea, coffee, or alcohol, he guzzles down a dozen Diet Cokes per day.

As in most ways, Trump is an outlier as a president.  Recent former presidents like Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter all had, on the whole, relatively healthy diets.  Even though a diet is a highly personal thing, there's a case to be made that the president must lead by example in this area, as in others.

Getting Americans to Eat Healthier

The issue of getting Americans to eat healthier certainly doesn't hinge on President Trump, but he can play a catalytic role in improving this aspect of America's health.

Here are a few thoughts and ideas on the topic:

  1. Let the First Lady Take Charge

Unless something drastic changes in Trump's diet, he probably isn't the best person to have a direct voice in improving the diet and nutrition of Americans.  It would be difficult for others to take him seriously.  But there is someone close to the president who could: Melania Trump, the FLOTUS.

While Melania is purposeful about keeping her personal life private, we do know she's extremely health-conscious.  She tries to eat seven pieces of fruit per day, which offer a complete set of vitamins and minerals for her hair and skin.  She also opts for nutrient-filled smoothies and fiber-rich oatmeal, along with targeted supplements to keep her healthy and vibrant.  When she does indulge, Melania goes for a piece of dark chocolate or a scoop of ice cream.

Taking a page out of former FLOTUS Michelle Obama's playbook, Melania could get involved in her husband's public health policies and encourage healthy eating, proper dieting, and even responsible fitness regimens.

  1. Continue Making School Lunches Healthier

According to the Hechinger Report, kids from low-income families living along the Mississippi Delta are genuinely excited about the healthy food options they get at school – such as apples and carrots – since they don't get them at home.

For some students, the only healthy whole grains, fruits, and vegetables they get come from supplement food programs like school meals.  Keeping these meals healthy will give students the opportunity to receive proper nutrition and set a foundation for healthier cravings in the future.

  1. Incentivize Healthy Eating

For an entire year, officials in one county of Massachusetts ran a study where they gave certain food stamp-users 30 cents back for every dollar they spent on fruits and vegetables.  When compared to families who weren't part of the program, the rewarded families reportedly ate one quarter cup more of fruits and vegetables per day.  They also spent $1.19 more on produce each month – a modest yet noticeable increase.

Is this a sign that the proper incentives could persuade individuals – particularly those in low-income brackets – to eat healthier?

Health journalist Francie Diep believes, "Policymakers could amplify the effects of reward programs with disincentives against buying unhealthy foods.  A mathematical model has shown that disallowing food stamps to be used to buy sugary drinks would reduce rates of diabetes and heart disease."

  1. Make Health Diets a Real Priority

It's one thing for a president to say he supports a healthy diet and proper nutrition.  It's something else entirely for that same president to make these actual priorities.  When you look at the numbers and understand the consequences, it becomes easier to see the significance.

"It's hard to fathom how much our country actually spends on health care: currently US$3.2 trillion per year, or nearly 1 in 5 dollars in the entire U.S. economy," writes Dariush Mozaffarian, professor of nutrition at Tufts University.  "That's almost $1,000 each month for every man, woman and child in the country, exceeding most people's budgets for food, gas, housing or other common necessities."

It doesn't stop there.  Diet-related conditions account for a number of health expenditures and lead to more than $125 billion in lost productivity and other indirect costs.

"At the same time, health care costs cripple the productivity and profits of American businesses," Mozafarrian continues.  "From small to large companies, crushing health care expenditures are a major obstacle to growth and success.  Warren Buffet recently called rising medical costs the 'tapeworm of American economic competitiveness.'  Our food system is feeding the tapeworm."

Putting It All Together

When you look at the current state of diet and nutrition in America, it's clear that Americans don't have equal access to healthy, affordable food.  Children, especially, are at risk of having improper diets.  Despite the fact that people are told to eat fruits and vegetables, the government programs subsidize processed food ingredients.

In addition to eating healthier, President Trump needs to make this a national policy priority and focus on setting a better precedent for the American people.