Unfit To Lead? Is Donald Trump The Heaviest US President Of All Time?

The White House

The White House

The U.S. Presidential race is over. On January 20, 2017 President-Elect Donald Trump will be sworn into the Oval Office and will assume the position as (arguably) the most powerful person on the planet.

Trump has stunned the entire world with victory. The media never picked this result… His own party probably didn't either. But at the end of the day he obtained the 270 electoral colleges he needed for a result (and some).

The voice of the public was heard.

Trump president

Trump president

However, for many this businessman turned reality TV star leading the country is a scary thought. 

A photo posted by Mediaoutrage (@mediaoutrage) on

Regardless of your leaning… Hillary Clintons concession early Wednesday morning meant it was 'all she wrote' and Trump had done the unthinkable.

Now at bellyfatformula.com we're not renowned for our political analysis - so don’t worry, this is not going to be a diatribe about Trumps suitability as president. There is enough of that circulating the internet - you don't need us wading in.

Today I want to touch on the physical fitness of our new president. Where does Trump sit in the line up of past Presidents from a health and wellbeing perspective. Some say Trump is not a picture of health, even that he is overweight. 

Certainly, many democrats seized on Trump's weight as an issue during the Presidential Campaign. Harry Reid and David Plouffe, a Senate minority leader and a former senior adviser to President Obama respectively, both noted it. Plouffe even suggested Trump would rival Former President William Howard Taft for ‘portliness’.

Despite a chequered path to the White House Trump didn't shy away from discussion on his body composition - commenting "I think I could lose a little weight.”  He said “I've always been a little bit this way. I think that if I had one thing, I'd like to lose weight.” In his opinion a loss of 15-20 pounds would be appropriate.

Trump's Doctor, Mr Bornstein, claimed the new president has lost 15 pounds over the past 12 months and is in impeccable health.  I'm sure you'll remember the fanfare surrounding the release of his medical records to Dr Oz. Here are his records by the way

Trump isn't the only president to capture unwanted attention for his weight.

Trumps weight

Trumps weight

Grover Cleveland, elected in 1884, and William Taft (1908), were both tormented with unkind editorial on their weight. Cleveland was described as a “huge, bejowled man, a walrus in wingtips, resembling Boss Tweed carrying 280 pounds on a small, beleaguered frame.” Although sentiment altered slightly towards the end of his tenure with some calling him ‘The Fat Knight’

Taft was reported to weigh between 300 and 350 pounds and is considered by many as the heaviest President of all time. A cartoon of Taft setting foot in Cuba cruelly displayed him sinking one side of the island nation.

We do need to remember that Trump has ticked over 70 years of age… and many of us have ‘let ourselves go’ much earlier than this stage in life. At 6’3 and 236 pounds (107kg) how does trump figure in the long history of US Presidents? Let's review the fattest and fittest US leaders of all time.

Perhaps the best way to (reasonably) measure a presidents level of fatness is to use their body mass index (BMI). Without the ability to start pinching away with a set of body fat callipers it is the most readily available method. Although, BMI is not without it's detractors. Many believe it is an imperfect predictor of health risk  because it doesn't accurately account for the influence of muscle mass in it's results. However, the World Health Organisation still believes a reliable way to determine body fat is to calculate the ratio of weight to height squared (BMI).

Have a look at the BMI table below for the health categorisations.

Body mass index - BMI

Body mass index - BMI

Now before we touch on the BMI of our former and current presidents - a caveat. Like any of us, the weight of the U.S. nations leader can fluctuate throughout their term in office, either through the stressors of the job, dietary considerations, or exercise. The BMI calculations below are based, where possible, on the time the president entered office - but these figures were not always available. It's also worth nothing that we couldn't obtain the data on all US presidents.  Our source data enabled us to rate 25 of the 45 presidents.

Ok, without further ado... here are the 10 presidents with the highest body max index. President Trump sits at third in our prestigious list.

Body Mass Index of USA Presidents - Highest BMI

Body Mass Index of USA Presidents - Highest BMI

Now just to reiterate what I said earlier, the presence of G.W. Bush at fifth on the list does demonstrate the flaws of BMI as a measurement. Bush was actually very fit when he entered office, and his short, muscular frame probably skewed his BMI results.

Body Mass Index of USA Presidents - Lowest BMI

Body Mass Index of USA Presidents - Lowest BMI

The fight for the lowest BMI was won by James Madison, president from 1809-1817. Madison was a small man, weighing it at only 100 pounds. Outgoing president Barack Obama sits 5th lowest on the BMI scale. Perhaps testament to regular exercise... and if you believe media reports - a lot of rounds of golf! 

So there you have it. What do you think about President Trump? Let us know your comments below (try to keep them specific to health and fitness if you can!)