In September, a concerned elementary-school teacher asked a question of the soon-to-be President Donald Trump from among the audience at The Dr. Oz Show: “How would you go about handling the obesity problem in the country—especially among children—and the fact that many schools are not providing enough exercise and recess time?”
The septuagenarian did not hesitate to respond. Words came in authoritative bursts: “That is a school thing, to a certain extent. I guess you could say it’s a hereditary thing, too, I would imagine. It certainly is a hereditary thing, but a lot of schools aren’t providing proper food because they have budget problems, and they’re buying cheaper food and not as good of food, and the big thing—when I went to school I always loved sports, and I would always—I loved to eat and I loved sports, and it worked, because I could do both.”
Oz sat beside him, nodding intently. Trump continued. “A lot of schools today, they don’t have sports programs, and that is a big problem. I would try and open that up. I’m a big believer in the whole world of sports. I would try and open that up.”
The “whole world of sports” seemed an homage to ESPN’s “wide world of sports,” and apparently represents the extent of the televisual enthusiast’s understanding of the causes of obesity. It is the condition at the heart of the $3 trillion in annual health-care spending that shapes the national economy and results in stifling political discord. These are costs that could be slashed by comprehensive approaches to preventive medicine—communities built to optimize health, where people have the opportunities to keep themselves out of the hospital. That includes schools that emphasize the importance of recess and play and eating well. A lack of emphasis on sports programs is a distant concern.