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TheRootDC
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Posted at 11:37 AM ET, 12/07/2011

Presidents aging, but not grayer


President Barack Obama speaks at Yeadon Regional Head Start Center Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011 in Yeadon, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (Alex Brandon)
President Obama’s gray hair has been scrutinized and interpreted as his commander-in-chief task taking a heavy toll on his body. But a new study says that actually might not be the case.

Researcher S. Jay Olshansky chose to study presidents aging after Obama turned 50 this summer. He conducted the study by comparing presidents with men of their age and era and found that presidents live longer than expected.

Here’s an excerpt from our Washington Post story:

Olshansky decided to examine the question of presidential aging and longevity when Obama turned 50 this summer, drawing attention to his graying hair, wrinkles and other supposed signs of aging. Some doctors have suggested that presidents tend to age at twice the normal rate.
But after excluding the four presidents who were assassinated, Olshanky using data from the United States and France, found that 23 of the 34 U.S. presidents who died from natural causes lived longer — and often significantly longer — than the average life expectancy of men of their same age when the presidents were inaugurated. The mean age of death for the presidents was 78; they would have been expected to live only to age 67 if they were aging twice as fast as normal while in office, Olshansky calculated.
The average lifespan of the first eight presidents was 79.8 years at a time when the average life expectancy for men was less than 40, Olshanky reported in a letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The living ex-presidents have either already exceeded their predicted longevity at the time of their inauguration or are likely to do so.


Former President Bill Clinton. (Photo by George Pimentel/Getty Images) (George Pimentel - GETTY IMAGES)
Olshansky called the graying of hair and wrinkling of skin normal signs of aging that would occur for all men regardless of job title.

Obama told NPR he felt “real good” about getting older and looking older.

Here’s an excerpt from our Washington Post story on turning the big 5-0:

An older-but-wiser motif has begun to sprout up in several of Obama’s fundraising speeches as the 2012 presidential campaign season heats up.
“I don’t look that young anymore,” Obama told supporters on a conference call in April. “I’m grayer, I have bags under my eyes, but that core spirit is still there.”
In 2008, Obama centered his campaign around youthfulness, but this time he’s presenting himself as a more experienced candidate who’s grown during his time in office.
“I’m old enough where hopefully I’ve made enough mistakes I’m not going to repeat,” Obama said. “And I’m still young enough that I can appreciate that wisdom.”

What do you think? Are Obama’s grays making him look a bit haggard these days or does he still hold his infamous “hot neighbor” Washingtonian magazine title?

Read more on The Root DC

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By Fahima Haque  |  11:37 AM ET, 12/07/2011

Categories:  The Root DC Live

 
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