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White House doctor: Trump healthy, passed cognitive assessment

| Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, 4:39 p.m.
President Trump shakes hands with White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson as he boards Marine One as he leaves Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, after his first medical check-up as president.
President Trump shakes hands with White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson as he boards Marine One as he leaves Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, after his first medical check-up as president.

WASHINGTON — A White House doctor pronounced President Trump medically fit to serve as commander-in-chief on Tuesday – and added that he easily passed a voluntary cognitive assessment designed to test his mental reflexes.

"The president's overall health is excellent," Dr. Ronny Jackson told reporters during an unusual briefing at the White House, days after completing the Trump's first physical examination as president.

Jackson did say that the 71-year-old, 239-pound president could use more exercise and a better diet that is lower in fat and carbohydrates. Trump, who is known to eat junk food and to avoid exercise beyond golf, is overweight. Jackson said they set a "reasonable goal" of losing 10 to 15 pounds in the coming year and developing a regular fitness routine.

"He's more enthusiastic about the diet part than the exercise part," Jackson said.

Trump, who has gained three pounds since his physical in 2016, takes a drug to reduce his cholesterol, and Jackson said he may increase the dosage. The doctor added that Trump does not use tobacco or alcohol, one of the reasons he is in good health generally.

The president's yearly physical at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which took place on Friday, is a routine practice. But Trump's exam has taken on heightened scrutiny amid questions about his mental fitness.

Jackson said he "initially had no intention" of including a test of the president's mental fitness in his first annual physical, and stressed that he had "absolutely no concerns about his cognitive ability or neurological functions." Such exams are not usually part of presidential physicals.

Still, at the president's request, Jackson did an assessment to screen for any cognitive impairment such as Alzheimers – and Trump got a perfect score.

"The president is mentally very sharp," Jackson said.

Critics began openly questioning Trump's mental heath this month following a tweet in which he said he has a bigger nuclear button than North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, and the publication of Fire and Fury, a book about the White House, in which anonymous Trump acquaintances questioned the president's mental stability.

Asked how Trump could stay healthy on a diet that includes McDonald's and Diet Cokes, Jackson said: "It's called genetics – I don't know."

Jackson estimated that Trump only gets 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night. "He doesn't sleep much," he said.

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