The History of Health: US Presidents

Sandy Sugi, Senior Staff Writer

George Washington (1732-1799): The first and
only non partisan president in American history suffered from his fair share of health issues. Washington’s illnesses were definitely an accurate representation of the time period he lived in. 18th century America was not the cleanest of places in the world to say the least, with growing towns and a growing republic, the bacterial villains we don’t need to worry about were a serious problem during Washington’s lifetime. At age 17 Washington caught malaria. Never really being treated for it, the illness continued to creep back into the president’s life. “It strikes, the fever will come, and then it goes away. It’s active, quiet, active and quiet – and so Washington had bouts of it throughout his life,” states At age 19, Washington was then diagnosed with smallpox. The awful effects of this harmful disease leaving him with distinct scarring on his face from the blisters and lesions.

William Howard Taft (1857-1930): the 27th president and 10th chief justice struggled continuously keeping his weight at a healthy level throughout his adult life. Constantly fluctuating between 350 to 255 pounds, the president tried unsuccessfully for years to not only lose a healthy amount of weight but keep the weight off. “His tactics of weight loss ranged from, low calorie diets, to increasing his workout routines, to weekly updates to his long time friend and most trusted health guru (Dr. Yorke-
Davies),” states the New York Times. The president’s weight problem was highlighted in poor taste by cartoonist all across the county during his campaign for the seat of presidency. This problem of obesity that the young president faced back more than a century ago is now a problem that nearly 80 million Americans face today, states On March 8th, 1930, president Taft passed away from heart disease complications.