It’s well established that Donald Trump enjoys the unhealthier sides of life.
On the campaign trail, he extolled the virtues of McDonald’s, “The Big Macs are great. The Quarter Pounder. It’s great stuff,” even inviting China’s President to enjoy a meal at the fast-food establishment.
At a CNN town-hall, he told Anderson Cooper, “A ‘fish delight,’ sometimes, right?” Probably the first time the word “delight” has been paired with “McDonald’s fish.”
In addition to his love-affair with the Golden Arches, he’s also shown an affection for buckets of fried chicken, burnt steak, and Pizza Hut’s stuffed crust. He also loves his meatloaf, his Wendy’s, and hates grains, choosing to scrape off pizza toppings rather than eat the dough—because pizza carbs are worse than fried chicken carbs. The only “diet” of his day is the innumerable Diet Cokes the man drinks, so many that he has a button installed in the Oval Office.
On top of that, the President doesn’t believe in exercise. A New Yorker article uncovered, “Other than golf, he considers exercise misguided, arguing that a person, like a battery, is born with finite amount of energy.”
All these habits have somehow given rise to someone who, according to his physician, “is in excellent physical health,” and that “he would be the healthiest person ever elected president,” which is generous praise for someone who diets like the Hamburglar.
But Trump clearly thinks he’s doing something right with his lifestyle because his administration is already set to undo the years of work former First Lady Michelle Obama put into healthy-eating initiatives like the “Let’s Move” campaign and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, campaigns aimed at improving child nutrition and fighting childhood obesity through healthier school lunches and education programs.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, in one of his first regulatory acts, announced the plan to roll back the former first lady’s healthful standards.
“This announcement is the result of years of feedback from students, schools, and food service experts about the challenges they are facing in meeting the final regulations for school meals,” Perdue said in a statement.
“If kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition—thus undermining the intent of the program.”
This would be a valid reason for reshaping school lunches back to the old standards… if it were completely true.
School breakfasts and lunches serve more than 31 million children, and the data didn’t exactly indicate that food was “ending up in the trash.” In fact, the numbers showed that the new standards were starting to work, with obesity rates leveling off and children adapting to the increased fruits and vegetables. Cecilia Muñoz, who worked with President Obama, told McClatchy, “By and large, these are regulations that are being implemented successfully,” she said. “This looks like something that’s being done for the sake of industry at the expense of kids.”
“It’s going to be interesting what the rationale is going to be for adding more salt to foods or moving away from whole grains to more refined grains,” she added.
The administration’s current rationale: “To make food more palatable,” Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) told McClatchy.
The scientific reality: Reducing salt intake and adding more whole grains to your diet is damn-good for your body.
A study, confirmed by the Institute of Medicine, noted that lowering your salt intake is the easiest way to relieve high blood pressure. Since high blood pressure is a major cause of heart disease and stroke, it’s a no-brainer to at least monitor salt consumption, suggests the Mayo Clinic. Much like salt, the Institute of Medicine also found that most American school children didn’t consume enough whole grains. According to the American Heart Association, a diet of whole grains instead of refined grains lowers the risk of stroke by more than 30-percent, type 2 diabetes by nearly 30-percent, heart disease by 25-percent, and it helps maintain a healthy weight—notably by increasing metabolism and calorie loss.
The news of Perdue’s plan has infuriated Michelle Obama.
“But think about why someone is okay with your kids eating crap. Why would you celebrate that? Why would you sit idly and be okay with that? Because here’s the secret: If someone is doing that, they don’t care about your kid.”
Well, Michelle, the President is “okay with that,” and, based on his Twitter photos, he’s “celebrating that” as well, and, in a weird way, he’s enabling Americans to follow in his footsteps.
Somebody should tell the President that, with better school lunches, the U.S. was finally winning a battle against childhood obesity. If good nutrition can’t convince him, maybe it’s time to explain the benefits of exercise—or enroll him in a fourth grade gym class to learn the benefits.
For starters, exercise improves for the heart function and endurance and gives people energy, according to the Mayo Clinic. Exercise can improve the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissue, thus allowing muscles to produce more energy, says the American Council on Exercise.
Exercise also makes people more energized. It eases stress, anxiety and depression, and it makes you happy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes.
One Australian study even concluded that exercise literally helps you live longer.
If the human body were a battery, diet and exercise would be the charging stations.
To not believe in good nutrition, to not believe in exercise is like trying to ignore laws of gravity—or ignore that The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the best album of all time … because it is. Fruits, vegetables, walking—the basis for life—are what keep us alive and will forever continue keeping us alive—until someone genetically modifies an apple to taste like a Wendy’s Classic Triple.
Top photo by DonkeyHotey / Flickr CC BY SA 2.0
Tom Burson is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? but with more sunscreen and jorts.