Presidents should serve as role models for good health and personal fitness.
That’s the overwhelming opinion of thousands of Healthline readers who participated in our recent online survey on health and this year’s presidential election.
However, those same readers are split on whether the public has the right to know what medical conditions the presidential candidates are being treated for.
And only slightly more than half say the candidates’ health will affect whom they vote for in November.
The survey was conducted from May 6 to May 12. In all, 4,314 people responded.
About 41 percent identified themselves as Democrats, while 27 percent said they are Republicans. Another 20 percent responded as independents and the rest said they were aligned with smaller parties.
Is a Candidate’s Health Important?
In the survey, about 32 percent of participants said they felt Democrat Hillary Clinton was in the best personal health of the candidates.
Another 30 percent said Republican Donald Trump was in the best health, while 13 percent said Democrat Bernie Sanders was in the best condition. About 25 percent answered “none of the above.”
The answers were slightly different when readers were asked which candidate was most “physically up to the task” of being president.
Both Clinton and Trump received about 32 percent of the votes. Sanders received almost 13 percent while more than 22 percent said “none of the above.”
When asked to what degree will candidates’ health affect their vote, 22 percent said the issue means a lot to them while 33 percent said it is “somewhat important.”
Another 15 percent said a candidate’s health is neither important nor unimportant, while 17 percent said the issue doesn’t mean much to them. About 13 percent said it isn’t important at all.
How Much Should We Know?
Answers varied when it came to the public’s right to know about personal health issues.
Slightly more than 40 percent said voters should know if a candidate has a medical condition they are being treated for and what medication they’re taking.
Slightly less than 40 percent said making that information public is an invasion of privacy. About 20 percent had no opinion.
However, when asked if former President George H.W. Bush’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease would influence their vote if he were running today, 77 percent of respondents said that revelation would be somewhat or very important.
If his candidacy were affected by that diagnosis, would that be fair?
About 16 percent of our survey respondents said it would be very unfair while slightly less than 36 percent said it would be somewhat unfair. Another 32 percent said it would be fair.
Most survey participants said they felt health policies should be a priority.
Half of the respondents said it’s important for a president to make fitness and healthy eating a national priority.
Another 31 percent said it’s “very important” for the issue to be front and center.
Almost 18 percent said fitness and healthy eating were either not very important or not important at all.
On another question, more than 80 percent of respondents said the president should be a role model for good health.
More than 53 percent said it’s important for a president to set an example for physical fitness while 30 percent said it’s very important.
Almost 17 percent said setting an example isn’t important.
About 75 percent of all survey respondents were women.
The smallest age group was 18 to 24, which accounted for about 11 percent of respondents. The largest age group was 55 to 64, which accounted for more than 23 percent of respondents.