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Next PagePrevious Page The New York Times on Taft's Weight-Loss

The article below appeared on page A1 of the December 12, 1913 New York Times. No author is given.

Note: the Times consistently mis-spells Dr. Blumer as "Dr. Bloomer."

Ex-President Weighs 270, as Against 340 on March 4 Last.

Ex-President William Howard Taft, who came here yesterday to address the Peace Society on the Monroe Doctrine, has lost exactly 69 pounds of flesh since he left the White House, on March 4, last. When Mr. Taft bade President Wilson good-bye the afternoon of Inauguration Day and started to his "Southern Home" in Augusta, Ga., there to rest and recuperate after nearly twenty years of practically continuous Federal service Mr. Taft weighed 340 pounds, which he good naturedly admitted yesterday was too much even for so good a golf player as the ex-President is conceded to be.

It was in the course of a conversation he had with a Times reporter at the home of his brother, Henry W. Taft, at [XX] West Forty-eighth Street, yesterday afternoon, that Mr. Taft told how he had managed to rid himself of that seventy pounds of flesh, and how he expected to continue losing weight until he reached the exactly proper weight of a man of his own generous proportions.

"Mr. Taft," the reporter said, "would it be out of place to ask you how much flesh you have lost since you left the White House?"

"Not at all," Mr. Taft answered with his famous big smile in evidence, "and I am glad to be in a position to be able to tell you to the fraction of a pound. On the Fourth of March, when I left Washington for Augusta, I weighed exactly 340 pounds. This morning I weighed myself again and I tipped the scale at exactly 270.8 pounds, which shows that in the months that have elapsed since I ceased to be President I have lost exactly 69.2 pounds of flesh."

"Do you feel better as a result of it?" was the next question.

"Indeed I do. I can truthfully say I never felt any younger in all my life. Too much flesh is bad for any man. It affects a man both physically and mentally. When I left Washington last March it was at the end of almost twenty years of continuous service for the Government. It was in 1892 that I took the oath as a Circuit Judge in the old Burnett House in Cincinnati. I then weighed 270 pounds, just my present weight. And now, after nine months as a plain old private citizen I am back at the old 1892 figures, and I certainly feel fit and fine as a result of it."

"When I reached Augusta," Mr. Taft continued, "the reaction after all those years of hard work was most pronounced, to put it mildly. I was nervous and fretful and for perhaps a month I found it hard to sleep. Then came the second and normal reaction, and I began to appreciate the blessings of a long-needed rest."

"How did you manage to reduce your weight so appreciably?" Mr. Taft was asked.

"By consulting a regular physician and not a quack," was the quick answer. Then he proceeded to tell all about it.

"I placed myself under the direction of Dr. Bloomer [sic], the head of the Yale medical Faculty, and Bloomer has accomplished wonders," he said. "The diet I have followed was prescribed by Dr. Bloomer. I have dropped potatoes entirely from my bill of fare, and also bread in all forms. Pork is also tabooed, as well as other meats in which there is a large percentage of fat. All the vegetables except potatoes are permitted, and of meats, that of all fowls is permitted. In the fish line I abstain from salmon and bluefish, which are the fat members of the fish family. I am also careful not to drink more than two glasses of water at each meal. I abstain from wines and liquors of all kinds, as well as tobacco in every form. The last is, however, nothing unusual, for I never drink intoxicants anyway, and I have never used tobacco in my life."

Here the ex-President told a funny story in which a Washington correspondent, Senator Jonathan Bourne and himself had three leading parts.

"Bourne and I," said Mr. Taft, "were dining together at Hot Springs, Va., just after my election and prior to my inauguration when the newspaper correspondent, now quite well known, but then a youngster in Washington, came by and in the course of the short talk that followed Bourne and I mentioned the fact that we had stopped drinking. The correspondent took what was said to mean that we had sworn off and the next day his paper printed a long story that was captioned in big black type 'Taft stops drinking.'

"Then the trouble started. From all parts of the country temperance organizations began to send congratulations, and a conference of the Methodist ministry went so far as to designate a committee of seven Bishops to visit me and tell me how glad the Church was that I had quit drinking. I knew one of those Bishops quite well, and so I sat down and wrote him a letter. I told him that, while I was not a drinking man, and did not intend to indulge, that I nevertheless intended to serve wines at dinners given to diplomats ad [sic] others who drink wines with their meals as aids to digestion. I said that if with this understanding the committee still desired to visit me I would be delighted to receive them. They decided that I was too busy and never came."

Mr. Taft said that he and Mrs. Taft would go to Augusta in April for a visit to their "home folks" in that Southern city. He said Augusta held a very dear place in his affections.

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