America’s Least Healthy Presidents

  • Find out which important organ had major health impacts on three of America’s unhealthiest presidents
  • Did one of our presidents seal his fate with jelly beans?
  • Find out how to be healthier than our former leaders with these easy tips.

Dear Reader,

Happy Presidents Day!

In celebration of the holiday, today’s edition of Living Well Daily  is going to take a little trek through time to look at the health of a few American presidents.

We will also reveal who takes the title of America’s Most Unhealthy President and what factors attributed to it.

Being the commander in chief of one of the most powerful nations in the world isn’t a cakewalk. Needless to say, it’s the kind of job that will take a toll on your health.

And as you we see, there is one organ that plays a vital role in the health of our former leaders. I will explain more later.

Let’s move on to some presidential health stats real quick…

Of America’s 44 presidents, eight have died while in office. Four of these were due to assassination, and four were due to natural causes.1

So it seems if you’re a president destined to die in office, there is a 50/50 chance you will die by violence or of health issues. Either way, it doesn’t look good. But eight of 44 isn’t exactly an astonishing number.

However, it’s when you take a deeper look at the personal health profiles of a few of these leaders that things get a little more interesting.

Before we dive into that, let’s take a closer look at the health issues of three of our presidents who didn’t die in office.

--Presidential Problems

Ronald Reagan, the 40th president (1981–89), suffered from many health ailments over the course of his life, including a bullet wound he received in 1981 during an assassination attempt. While President Reagan survived a bullet to the chest, he had worse health problems to deal with, including colon and skin cancers, prostate stones, and, lastly, Alzheimer’s disease.

Ronald Reagan handing a jar of jelly beans to Bill Clinton. Maybe Clinton ate them with his McDonald’s Big Macs?
Photo credit:

Known for an almost photographic memory during his time in office, Reagan’s memory went downhill during his 70s. At times, his memory would fail so badly he would forget the names of foreign dignitaries and even familiar staff members.2

President Reagan was also famous for his sweet tooth. In fact, 3.5 tons of Jelly Belly jelly beans were delivered for inaugural celebrations at the White House. Jelly Belly even created their Blueberry flavor for the event.3

Since research indicates high added sugar intake can increase your risk of cardiac disease, it would make sense that Reagan’s jelly bean habit may have attributed to his overall bad heath.4

As we have pointed out in a previous article, cardiovascular health is vital to maintaining brain health and staving off memory disorders.

Reagan died from pneumonia in 2004 at the age of 93 after a decade-long battle with Alzheimer’s.5

Next up on the unhealthy list is the 28th president (1913–1921), Woodrow Wilson. While Wilson is not quite the leader of the pack, his health was worse than President Reagan’s, for the most part.

Wilson experienced headaches, high blood pressure, and double vision during his adulthood. These symptoms may have been the precursor for the series of strokes Wilson suffered. These strokes started in 1896. In 1906, one of these strokes left him blind in his left eye.

However, in 1919, he suffered an immense stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side, forcing him to use a wheelchair and later a cane. In order to keep his reputation intact, Wilson kept his medical condition out of public view until 1920.

Woodrow Wilson getting help from his second wife, Edith, after his stroke.
Photo Credit: Library of Congress

In fact, his condition had deteriorated so greatly that it’s thought that his second wife, Edith, had to make all presidential judgments for him during his last three years in office.

Wilson’s bad health eventually became public knowledge and eventually led the ratification of the 25th Amendment. This amendment clarifies the vice president’s power in the event the president dies or becomes incapacitated. 2

Wilson died on Feb. 3, 1924, just three years after he left office.

The unhealthiest United States president was… (drumroll, please)

Grover Cleveland! Cleveland was both the 22nd (1885–89) and 24th presidents (1893–97) of the United States.

So what sets Cleveland apart? His appetite for rich foods, cigars, and heavy drinking, mostly.

Since his childhood, Cleveland suffered from obesity. Unfortunately, his extra weight followed him into adulthood. He was the second-heaviest U.S. president, weighing in over 250 pounds, surpassed only by William Taft, who tipped the scales at 300 pounds. In fact, Cleveland was so large his nephews and nieces referred to him as “Uncle Jumbo.”2

Grover Cleveland.
Photo Credit:

Cleveland often indulged in beer and heavy foods. His love for beer was so strong, he had a very difficult time restricting his intake to four beers a day during a challenge with his rival in a district attorney race. He quickly decided that it was too strict for him to follow.

Cleveland also enjoyed cigars. After several years of smoking, an ulcer formed on the roof of Cleveland’s mouth that turned out to be a cancer. In a secret surgery, the former president had parts of his hard palate and upper left jaw removed. The surgery permanently disfigured Cleveland’s face.2

While Cleveland had a lot of chips stacked against him at the health table, it was his gout that became his worst affliction. Gout is a type of arthritis caused by high levels of uric acid. Gout is debilitating and severely restrictive for most sufferers.

But severe pain is not the worst possible health outcome for those with gout. According to research done by scientists at the University of Oxford, gout is now a marker for cardiac disease. In fact, having gout doubles your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.6

In Cleveland’s case, this risk may have been too much for him to evade — he died from a heart attack on June 24, 1908.7

As you can see, poor heart health is the common thread amongst these unhealthy presidents — Reagan’s Alzheimer’s, Wilson’s strokes, and Cleveland’s gout.

Diet, regular exercise, and reducing stress are the building blocks of heart health, but as you can see from the presidential examples, sometimes you may need a little extra help.

A supplement that helps to support cardiovascular health is olive leaf extract. In fact, a double-blind, randomized, parallel, and active-controlled human clinical study showed that people taking olive leaf extract experienced healthier blood pressure in just eight weeks!8

If you choose to make olive leaf extract a part of your health, be sure to check with your physician before taking it.

If you have any heart-healthy hacks you would like to share, write me!

Live well,

Natalie Moore
Managing editor, Living Well Daily


[1] List of U.S. Presidents Who Died In Office

[2] America’s 10 Unhealthiest Presidents

[3] Remembering President Ronald Reagan

[4] Added Sugars Add to Your Risk of Dying from Heart Disease

[5] Health and Medical History of President Ronald Reagan

[6] Risk of heart attack and stroke doubles for patients with gout

[7] Grover Cleveland Biography

[8] Olive (Olea europaea) leaf extract effective in patients with stage-1 hypertension: comparison with Captopril.

[9] Pineapple, Bromelain and Gout: What is bromelain exactly and how does it help with my gout?

Natalie Moore

Written By Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore is a dedicated health researcher with a passion for finding healthy, natural, and science-based solutions. After a decade of direct healthcare experience in western and natural medicine, she was involved in public health research before joining Living Well Daily.

View More Free Articles

Overlooked fatty acid SLASHES deaths and hospitalizations

I’ve sung the praises of omega-3 fatty acids many times here in Living Well Daily. I’ve encouraged you to be sure you’re getting enough of the omega-3s eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) by eating plenty of cold-water fatty fish and taking supplements when needed. And there’s a good reason for that. EPA and...

Read This

How Much Sleep DO You Need A Night? [STUDY]

I’m sure you know that getting enough sleep is good for you. But what does that mean, exactly? It’s always been hard to get a straight answer. Until now, that is. Thanks to new research we have an answer to that question. The newly published 25-year study compares the sleep habits of over 7,000 men...

Read This

MAILBAG: Is the Flu Shot RIGHT for YOU?

Dear Living Well Daily Reader, “Along with COVID, I’m worried about getting the flu this year. What do you recommend for avoiding the flu? The flu shot?” – Mike from Park City, UT Hi Mike, I’ll be honest. The flu vaccine COULD have a better long-term track record. According to the Centers for Disease Control...

Read This

Dangerous Vitamin Deficiency Sends Folks to An Early GRAVE

If you’ve been a loyal reader for a while now you’re probably already taking steps to ensure your health is in tip-top shape. You do your best to eat well… You stay hydrated… You, hopefully, get in some regular exercise… And maybe you even take a multivitamin… While I would certainly give you an A...

Read This

EASY 2-Minute Trick Fights Aging from Head to Toe

Healthy aging boils down to one surprising thing: your muscles. I know that may sound strange at first. But hear me out. Maintaining strong and healthy muscles is the first step to keeping a healthy body and sharp mind well into your golden years. After all, sturdy muscles are required to fight off frailty and...

Read This

Don’t Let Sickening BACTERIA Bungle Your Holiday Plans!

They say cleanliness is next to godliness. Now, I don’t know about that. But, I DO know that when it comes to your kitchen, cleanliness is absolutely VITAL. The trouble is, even the cleanest of kitchens can harbor some sickening hidden secrets. And new research just revealed one of the most surprising culprits. Trust me,...

Read This

Cold, flu, or COVID? EASY ways to spot the difference

Does developing a sniffle, sneeze, or cough practically cause you to panic these days? If so, you’re not alone. Many of us feel the same way. Gone are the “good old days” when you only had to worry if you were coming down with a cold or the flu. And, let’s be honest, we didn’t...

Read This

3 -Minute Countdown Method DEFEATS Diabetes

Dear Living Well Daily Reader, Make a cup of tea. Read a couple of pages in a book. Watch a silly cat video. There are a bunch of things you can do in three minutes. And now scientists say defeating diabetes could be one of them. If you’re struggling with blood sugar control, your doctor...

Read This

MAILBAG: Battling Bubbly Guts? Try THIS

Dear Living Well Daily Reader, “I hate that I can no longer just eat whatever I want. I either seem to have indigestion, bloating, or gas. I’m always taking antacids. It’s miserable and frustrating — what else can I do besides only eating potatoes?” –– Carl, from Lincoln, NE Hi Carl, Let’s start with the...

Read This

COVID Hospitalizations PLUNGE with this “MOVE”

Remember when they said we’d just need to hunker down at home for a few weeks, and this whole COVID-19 thing would blow over? It’s safe to say they got that one wrong. In fact, it’s looking like COVID-19 is less of a visitor and more of a permanent house guest these days. That means...

Read This