Last week The New York Times reported, “Donald Trump Checkup Said to Reveal He Is Overweight.”
This revelation was a prelude to the Republican candidate's appearance on The Dr. Oz Show on Thursday. There Trump appeared surprised by one question about obesity. The question was not about Trump’s own body mass, but rather what he planned to do about the metabolic health of American children.
It was a sobering moment, a reminder that concerns about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton’s health should be dwarfed by concerns about how the candidates would affect everyone else’s health. The fundamental way that will happen is by affecting the leading cause of poor health in the country: the food we eat. On that topic the two candidates could not be more different.
Trump’s explanation of obesity on Oz’s show was barely coherent and extremely consequential. I’ll get to that, but to set the scene: Until that point, the best part of the interview was a canned exchange in which Trump revealed that he possessed—in his jacket pocket—a crisp copy of a new doctor’s note, from none other than the irascible Harold Bornstein. Oz asked if he could maybe see the letter. Trump said yes. The premise was like a skit on Sesame Street. What followed was a bizarre review of some basic blood tests and Oz emphasizing that he is not Trump’s doctor while performing a simulation of a patient-doctor interaction, reading off numbers like the weight of the candidate’s body, and his cholesterol levels, and asking questions like, “Any bladder or prostate issues?” (Only near the end of the hour-long program did Oz ask, “May I ask a personal question?”)