Despite his best efforts, Taft always remained obese. When he died of heart failure in 1930, he weighed 280 pounds.
Still, Roslin pointed out, Taft was 73 when he died, which was a long life for the time. Roslin said Taft was probably able to stay "reasonably healthy" because he was so active, and did try to pay attention to his diet.
Another study in the same journal issue confirms that a healthy lifestyle can lessen the consequences of obesity. In a review of nine clinical trials, researchers found that when overweight and obese adults changed their diets, started exercising and got at least one other form of help -- such as stress management -- their risk of developing type 2 diabetes declined, for up to 10 years afterward.
"Our biggest worry today," Roslin said, "isn't so much the people like Taft, who stay active and fairly healthy. It's the young people who already have these chronic health problems."
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on obesity management.
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