One of the country’s most prominent cardiologists is disputing White House physician Dr. Ronny L. Jackson’s assertion that President Trump is in “excellent” health.
“First of all, he’s not in perfect health,” Dr. Dean Ornish told Deadline in an exclusive interview from the Sundance Film Festival, where the physician attended the world premiere of The Game Changers, a documentary in which he appears. “President Trump’s cholesterol is very high. He’s obese in terms of his weight.”
On Tuesday, Dr. Jackson briefed reporters at the White House on the first physical exam Trump has undergone since he took office almost a year ago. He called the president’s cardiac health excellent, despite an LDL cholesterol level that measured 143, much higher than recommended levels. His positive assessment provoked a skeptical response from a number of cardiologists, including Dr. Ornish, a researcher, founder of a preventative medicine institute, and best-selling author.
Dr. Ornish served as a medical consultant to President Clinton both during and after his two terms in office, but has not examined President Trump.
Defending Dr. Jackson on Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointed to his unique vantage point on the president’s health.
“He is the only doctor that has weighed in on this matter that has actually examined the president,” she noted, adding, “We support what he said yesterday 100-percent—that the president is in excellent health.”
Questions about the president’s dietary habits were fanned by the recent publication of the book “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff, which claimed President Trump had a longtime fear of his meals being tampered with and liked to eat at McDonald’s because “nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely pre-made.”
Dr. Ornish referred to that story in his interview with Deadline, remarking, “In ‘Fire and Fury’ he talked about how he’s concerned about being poisoned, so he eats McDonald’s and french fries and Cokes and all this junk food. The irony is that’s what’s really poisoning him.”
The Game Changers, directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Louis Psihoyos and executive-produced by James Cameron and Suzy Amis Cameron, argues people would be much healthier if they adopted a plant-based diet and gave up meat-eating. In the film, super athletes, including world record-holding strongman Patrik Baboumian, cyclist and Olympic Silver Medalist Dotsie Bausch, and record-setting ultra marathoner Scott Jurek, testify that a plant-based diet propelled them to unprecedented heights.
Deadline asked Dr. Ornish what dietary advice he would give the president.
“Let’s say there’s a lot of room for improvement. And one of the things that came across in this film is that when you eat even a single meal that’s healthy, your heart gets more blood, your sexual organs get more blood, your brain gets more blood. You can actually grow so many new brain neurons in a matter of weeks,” he stated. “So I would say to him and everyone else, awareness is always the first step in healing.”