Presidential aging photos


CNN has a series of photos showing how the stress of being president takes a physical toll in the form of accelerated aging. Above, a guess at what Obama will look like after 4 years.

The president ages twice as fast while in office, according to a theory advanced by Dr. Michael Roizen, a chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic.

"The typical person who lives one year ages one year," he said. "The typical president ages two years for every year they are in office."

(Via IssTumBul)


  1. Seems excessive, but no doubt he is going to look like he’s been through the thresher after so much stress. Doesn’t everyone age one year if they live one year? I may just be being deliberately obtuse, but that statement holds a lot of fail for me.

  2. Check out Bush Jr. in 2000. He’s aged a lot. Also, aging is non-linear. There’s a sharp turn in the road at around 45.

  3. As an American (albeit living in London), how strange and wonderful is it to think of my home country having an African-American president. For the first time in my life I am actually somewhat proud: I come from a country that elected an African American as President.

    At the same time, I wonder just what we will think of this man 4 and then 8 years from now. My God I hope we look on his Presidency as a new danw for our country. Isn’t that bizarre? I actually hope things get better, despite all the damage we have done both during Bush and previously.

  4. Yes indeed the job noticeably ages them: I first noticed this “rapid aging effect” with Carter IIRC. not so much with Ford or Nixon or even Johnson.

  5. I can see this if the average U.S. aged 5 years for each given year… Honestly the second picture I would guess he was in his 70s.
    And JATHOMAS, I think the standard “R.I.P.” tombstone would suffice.

  6. I doubt he’ll age this much in four years. Maybe eight (if we’re lucky) but not four. In any case, even the “old” Obama looks pretty good.

  7. Obama aged so much during the primaries, it was really startling.

    If McCain aged, I didn’t notice.


    I suspect president McCain by 2012 would have looked younger, and much more feminine (hem, hem)

  9. @antinous

    There’s a sharp turn in the road at around 45.

    Thanks. Added to my list of “Things I’d Rather Not Have Been Told.”

  10. I’m not convinced by those photos. In order to really determine the effects of aging we really need to do a twin study. Elect one of a set of identical twins as POTUS and then compare them at the end of the term.

    Do it for the science, people.

  11. “The typical president ages two years for every year they are in office.”

    What does that statement even mean? How are they quantifying “Age”? Number of gray hairs? Number of wrinkles? Skin elasticity?

  12. It appears that most of the Presidents are dyeing their hair before they’re elected until some time during their terms.

  13. It’s true – I definitely noticed the premature aging effect on Harrison Ford, in the final scenes of Airforce One, for example.

  14. #11 – actually, McCain looked *younger* in some of his appearances immediately after the election. Less like the Michelin man. Must be something to it.

  15. Johnson aged an amazing amount between 1963 and 1968. It was really striking. And he died just a few years after leaving office.

    I’m not so sure Obama will age that much. I saw a video of him from 2001, and he looked remarkably the same as he does now. He has a little salt in his hair now, and I expect he’ll go grayer over the next 4 or 8 years. But I bet he’ll age a little less than the average president.

  16. Those historical photos are pretty dramatic. Not sure about those projected images of Obama, but it is sure to be one hell of a stressful presidency.

  17. That is some good ‘shopping, and yeah, it looks like Obama will look pretty distinguished once the weight of the world settles on his shoulders.

  18. Well Laurie thanx re: Johnson’s aging; I was not really paying attention back then.
    As to Obama you can never tell in advance; from my own experience I have seen that some people actually thrive, they seem happier & younger somehow, as the stress increases; so you never know how somebody will react to the stress of the schedule/workload.

    PS: Gotta run, Johnson’s aging.

  19. I am not seeing the dramatic aging of any of the pre-W presidents on the CNN site, except for the obvious chage of Clinton’s hair color on either end of the 1990s.

    But I am always taken aback whenever I stumble across a copy of the famous photo of Bush looking pensive while holding My Pet Goat, just after being informed of the first attack. From today’s perspective, my god, he looks so young. Flightsuit Bush, less than two years later, looks about ten years older than that.

  20. @#14

    Exactly what I was thinking. I just turned 40 and I think I look pretty good. It’s all going to go to shit in just 5 short years?

    The younger presidents age really quickly (Clinton, Bush Jr.), which doesn’t bode well for Obama. Reagan looked pretty much the same in both photos.

  21. Fox News is so angry that these photos weren’t provided before the election, when they would’ve “made a difference.”

  22. Just because there’s a sharp turn doesn’t mean that you have to drive into the ditch. If you know it’s coming, get an oil change, check your brake pads and make sure that your tires are properly inflated.

  23. Antinous
    – firstly, Obama’s 47, so he’s already rounded that corner
    – secondly, some of us are hoping to segue gently from ‘pretty enough for all normal purposes’ to ‘not ~scary~ ugly’… why would you spoil it for us?

  24. You see this same sort of aging effect on Marines. I am always startled to learn that a tired-looking staff-sergeant (who looked 36) is only four years older than me. I had a company commander who looked like 52 and he was only 37.

  25. I hope we get to see him age 4 years, however he may look afterwards.

    I hope I also get to age 4 years, so I can see how ‘rough’ he’ll really look after first term.

  26. They were talking about Obama’s cabinet appointments on the news tonight. Obama named Shinseki to head veterans affairs? The guy who was right about Iraq and told Rumsfeld to his face about it? Obama should make him Secretary of Defense. What is it with the Gates worship, anyway?

  27. People “age” at different rates. I’ve met a 27-year-old who looked 10 years older and a 39-year-old who looked 15 years younger. All through my 30s people told me I looked 28, but now looking 35 at 42, either way I’m “old.”

    Stress is hard to quantify. If web-surfing makes me feel like I’m on speed, is it literally putting my body through the same crap as speed would? It certainly keeps me up around the clock.

  28. “I come from a country that elected an African American as President.”

    Honestly though, there aren’t that many countries in which African *Americans* are eglible to be voted into the office.
    But I admit it’s great that a second-generation immigrant gets the highest office (but maybe that’s just European way of looking at things).

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