It’s arguably his most well-worn joke. President Barack Obama loves to thank supporters who knew him before his hair was more salt than pepper.
His driver’s license photo is the evidence, he joked at a polling booth this fall. Sometimes he blames his daughters. But don’t worry, he reassures audiences, “Every gray hair is worth it.”
But as Obama ends a year packed with turmoil, toil and political trouble, the temptation to blame the stress of a rough 2014 is strong, says the expert, S. Jay Olshansky, a public health professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago who has studied presidents and aging. His research found no evidence that presidents show signs of accelerated aging while in office or die sooner than other men.
Obama’s face age regularly averages below his 53 years, he says.
“It’s just a misconception,” Olshansky says of the idea that presidents age faster than others.