Ivana Trump is bringing a Berlusconi-approved diet to the US in an effort to 'make America svelte again'

  • Ivana Trump, the president's first ex-wife, introduced her new national campaign to fight obesity with a distinctly Trumpian event at the Plaza Hotel on Wednesday. 
  • Trump is promoting her Italian business partner's "Italiano Diet," which includes patented low-carb cookies and pasta, and herbal tonics. 
  • The duo will travel to the country's "10 fattest cities" over the coming months and aim to make $30 million in profit over the next few years. 

Ivana Trump is back in the spotlight. 

The Czech-born businesswoman and mother of the president's three eldest children arrived at the Plaza Hotel on Wednesday evening to talk business — not politics.

Surrounded by a throng of reporters and well-groomed PR professionals, the self-proclaimed "first Trump lady" introduced her latest project — a national campaign against adult obesity — in partnership with Italian businessman and nutritionist Gianluca Mech. 

After a glowing introduction from a former Fox News host, Trump sang the praises of Mech's "Italiano Diet" under chandeliers she imported from Italy back when her husband owned the hotel in the 1980s and early '90s.

"I used to be Eloise of the Plaza," she said, before describing her love of Mech's brand of packaged, low-carbohydrate foods and herbal supplements, and decrying the "calamity" of obesity in America. 

As Frank Sinatra crooned and cameras flashed, Trump and her semi-circle of large bodyguards criss-crossed the Oak Room explaining how obese Americans can eat "pasta, cookies, and lose weight."

'The American Ferrari of energy'

Trump, who has had two Italian husbands since divorcing the president in the mid-1990s, met Mech in Italy several years ago through a mutual "celebrity friend." A self-professed fan of all things Italian, Trump became a fan of Mech's Praline cookies — a sweet 60-calorie treat she says you can munch on "for hours" and not feel guilty about.

RELATED: See the former couple over the years 

25 PHOTOS
Donald and Ivana Trump through the years
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Donald and Ivana Trump through the years
American businessman Donald Trump and his wife Ivana smile as they attend a formal party, 1982. (Photo by Tom Gates/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - 1980: Donald Trump and Ivana Trump attend Roy Cohn's birthday party in February 1980 in New York City. (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - 1982: Ivana Trump and Donald Trump are seen in December 1982 in New York City. (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY - MAY 10: Donald Trump and Ivana Trump attend 38th Annual Horatio Alger Awards Dinner on May 10, 1985 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY - MAY 10: Ivana Trump and Donald Trump attend 38th Annual Horatio Alger Awards Dinner on May 10, 1985 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY - JUNE 10: Donald Trump and Ivana Trump attend Lord-Rosenthal Wedding Reception on June 10, 1987 in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY - OCTOBER 28: Donald Trump and Ivana Trump attend Lacroix Fashion Show on October 28, 1987 at the World Financial Center in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - 1987: Donald Trump, Diandra Douglas, Don King, Ivana Trump, and Michael Douglas attend a Trump Book Party in December 1987 at the Trump Tower in New York City. (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 12: Property developer Donald Trump and wife Ivana Trump chat with actor Michael Douglas and his wife Diandra Luker at the Party to Celebrate Trump's Book 'The Art of the Deal' at The Atrium in Trump Tower on December 12, 1987 in New York City, New York . (Photo by Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
FLUSHING, NY - CIRCA 1988: Ivana Trump and Donald Trump attends the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament circa 1988 in Flushing, Queens. (Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images)
Ivana (nee Zelnickova) and Donald Trump attend the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute gala, New York, New York, 1988. (Photo by Rose Hartman/Getty Images)
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - JUNE 27: Ivana Trump and Donald Trump attend Tyson vs. Spinks Boxing Match on June 27, 1988 at the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
NEW YORK - 1989: Property developer Donald Trump and wife Ivana Trump with actors Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith attend a Police Athletic League event for Commisioner Benjamin Ward's Kids in 1989 in New York City, New York . (Photo by Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Ivana Trump and Donald Trump during 1989 U.S. Open Celebrity Sightings - September 9, 1989 at Flushing Meadow in Queens, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY - SEPTEMBER 9: Ivana Trump and Donald Trump attend U.S. Open Tennis Tournament on September 9, 1989 at Flushing Meadows Park in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Businessman Donald Trump and his wife Ivana Trump attend 8th annual 'Night of 100 Trees' to benefit the Cancer Research Institute at the Sheraton Center in December 1989 in New York, New York. (Photo by Tom Gates/Getty Images)
Donald and Ivana Trump (Photo by Bob Sacha/Corbis via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 14: Donald Trump and Ivana Trump attend Scopus Awards Gala Honoring Merv Griffin on January 14, 1990 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY - FEBRUARY 4: Ivana Trump and Donald Trump attend United Jewish Appeal Gala Honoring Steve Ross on February 4, 1990 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Donald Trump and Ivana Trump (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY - APRIL 9: Donald Trump and Ivana Trump attend Man of the Year Awards Honoring Lawrence Harvey on April 9, 1991 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Donald Trump, Ivana Trump, and Ivanka Trump (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY - FEBRUARY 12: (L-R) Donald Trump, Ivana Trump and Ivanka Trump attend Valentine's Day Birthday Party for Ivana Trump on February 12, 1998 at Chaos in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
382524 16: (ITALY OUT) Donald Trump, his girlfriend, Melania, Ivana Trump and her boyfriend, Roffredo Gaetani attend a benefit auction at Cipriani November 28, 2000 in New York City. (Photo by Arnaldo Magnani/Liaison)
BRIARCLIFF MANOR, NY - SEPTEMBER 15: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission of #455504994 with alternate crop.) (L-R) Donald Trump, Ivana Trump, Eric Trump and Lara Yunaska attend The Eric Trump 8th Annual Golf Tournament at Trump National Golf Club Westchester on September 15, 2014 in Briarcliff Manor, New York. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
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She began insisting that her friend bring his diet — which former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says he lost 10 pounds on — to the United States. 

That was about five years ago, but now the time is finally right — in part because of the new American president. 

"With President Trump there are two things that are very attractive for any company. He cut taxes so it is very interesting to produce here because you'll pay less taxes than in Italy, for example," Mech said. "And the other thing is that it is more quick to obtain all the permissions you need, so it is very convenient and very easy for a company to invest in the United States." 

Mech said he doesn't know if the president is aware of the venture, or will use his platform to promote it, but added that he believes Ivana, who he calls "the American Ferrari of energy," will be key to his success. Indeed, Trump has promised to "make America svelte again." 

Their goal is to bring in about $30 million in profit over the next few years before Mech begins manufacturing his Italian products — which include flourless pasta and herbal diuretics — in the US.

Politics, pasta, and (sometimes) fried chicken 

The afternoon wasn't entirely free of politics.

When asked how her campaign differs from former first lady Michelle Obama's fight against childhood obesity, Trump said the best way to solve the problem is to focus on parents, not kids. 

"It's all on the parents. Whatever they put on the plate in front of the children, they're hungry, they don't cook, they eat," she said. "So if you put food in front of them that's junk — pizza, unhealthy food, French fries — of course they eat it, and then they get obese." 

But Trump, like her ex-husband, has a soft spot for fast food, and boosted her household name in the '90s by starring in ads for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut.

"I dream of it. I have it once a year, and I'll have it and won't eat anything for two days," she recently told the New York Post, adding the president's "only weakness is the Big Mac." (The White House revealed earlier this year that the president is one pound shy of being considered obese). 

Related: See her over the years 

34 PHOTOS
Ivana Trump through the years
See Gallery
Ivana Trump through the years

Ivana Trump, Czech-American athlete, socialite, and fashion model noted for her marriage toDonald Trump, photographed in 1983.

(Photo by Jack Mitchell/Getty Images)

Judges Andy Warhol and Ivana Trump. January 15, 1984.

(Photo by Michael Schwartz/New York Post Archives/(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)

NEW YORK CITY - MAY 10: Donald Trump and Ivana Trump attend 38th Annual Horatio Alger Awards Dinner on May 10, 1985 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Ivana Trump aboard the Trump Princess circa 1988 in New York City.

(Photo by Bettina Cirone/IMAGES/Getty Images)

Ivana Trump and Donald Trump attends the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament circa 1988 in Flushing, Queens.

(Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images)

Ivana Trump during The Fashion Group International's 6th Annual 'Night of 100 Stars' at The Plaza Hotel in New York City, New York, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Journalist Deborah Norville and Ivana Trump attending 'Cancer Society Awards Benefit Gala' on November 10, 1989 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, New York.

(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Estee Lauder, Ivana Trump and Arnold Scaasi during 18th Annual FIFI Foundation Awards at Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, New York, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Claudia Schiffer and Ivana Trump - Chanel Haute Couture fashion show fall winter 1991 - 1992 collections in Paris.

(Photo by Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images)

Ivana Trump and daughter Ivanka with Mme Hirsch and son - Chanel Haute Couture fashion show collection fall winter 1992-1993.

(Photo by Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images)

Ivana Trump with her children Eric and Ivanka attending a party at the Hard Rock Cafe on September 26, 1994.

(Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Ivana Trump during Party For Ivana Trump Hosted By Nikki Haskell at Spago's in West Hollywood, California, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Ivana Trump gets the Royal treatment from boyfriend Roffredo Gaetani at her pre-birthday and valentine's bash in New York City, February 12, 1998.

(Photo by Arnaldo Magnani/Liaison Agency)

Family portrait of, from left, socialite Ivana Trump, her son Eric Trump, her former husband businessman Donald Trump, and her daughter Ivanka Trump as they sit at a table at the Mar-a-Lago estate, Palm Beach, Florida, 1998.

(Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)

Rap artist Lil'' Kim, left, with Redo Gaetani and Ivana Trump attend a benefit auction at Cipriani November 28, 2000 in New York City.

(Photo by Arnaldo Magnani/Liaison)

Autumn Winter 2000 2001 Haute Couture Fashion Show In Paris: Ungaro On October 7th, 2000 In Paris, France. Ivana Trump And Roffredo Gaetani.

(Photo by William STEVENS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Ivana And Ivanka Trump at Ascot Races in Berkshire

(Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)

Patti LaBelle and Ivana Trump during Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs Birthday Party at The Supper Club at The Supper Club in New York City, New York, United States.

(Photo by KMazur/WireImage)

Ivana Trump attends the Voice of the Streets benefit, aka the official kickoff to Fashion Week in NYC at Churrascaria Plataforma September 6, 2005 in New York City.

(Photo by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)

Ivana Trump and Donald Trump Jr. attend Gotham Magazine First Anniversary Party on January 8, 2002 at the Regent Hotel in New York City.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Socialite Ivana Trump points as she smiles during red-carpet arrivals as part of the amFAR Cinema against AIDS 2003 benefit in Mougins May 22, 2003. Trump joins Dame Elizabeth Taylor in Mougins for the annual American Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR) benefit fund raiser held during the 56th International Film Festival on the French Riviera.

(REUTERS/Vincent Kessler)

Ivana Trump is on hand for the G&P Foundation for Cancer Research's fourth biennial Angel Ball 2005 at the New York Marriott Marquis on Broadway.

(Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Ivana Trump with Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump, celebrates her engagement to Rossano Rubicondi at Italian singer Nicola Congiu's private performance at 500 Park Avenue on October 15, 2007 in New York City.

(Photo by Duffy-Marie Arnoult/WireImage)

Ivana Trump strums a guitar while the Gipsy Kings entertain guests during 'The Best' Awards 2008 at the Bristol Hotel on December 01, 2008 in Paris, France.

(Photo by Michel Dufour/WireImage)

Ivana Trump leaves after attending Elie Saab fashion show, as part of Paris Fashion Week (Haute Couture) Spring-Summer 2008 on January 23, 2008 in Paris, France.

(Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images)

Tennis player Serena Williams and Ivana Trump attend the Luca Luca Spring-Summer 2009 Show at the Promenade, Bryant Park on September 8, 2008 in New York City.

(Photo by Jemal Countess/WireImage)

Domenico Vacca and Ivana Trump at Domenico Vacca Spring 2010 during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at the Soho House on September 12, 2009 in New York City.

(Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)

Sean 'Diddy' Combs and Ivana Trump attend Rico Love's 30th Birthday Celebration on December 8, 2012 in Miami, Florida.

(Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

Ivana Trump and Paula Abdul attend the Douglas Hannant Spring 2013 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Show at New York Historical Society on September 12, 2012 in New York City.

(Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic)

Ivana Trump attends the de Grisogono Party during the 65th Cannes International Film Festival.

(Photo by Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty Images)

Donald Trump and Ivana Trump attend The Eric Trump 8th Annual Golf Tournament at Trump National Golf Club Westchester on September 15, 2014 in Briarcliff Manor, New York.

(Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)

Ivana Trump attends the Mercedes-Benz Lounge during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2015 at Lincoln Center on September 8, 2014 in New York City.

(Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz)

Vanessa Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivana Trump, Eric Trump, Elvis Duran, Lara Trump, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner attend the 9th Annual Eric Trump Foundation Golf Invitational Auction & Dinner at Trump National Golf Club Westchester on September 21, 2015 in Briarcliff Manor, New York.

(Photo by Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images)

Ivana Trump sighted at The Deck at The Island Gardens on March 6, 2016 in Miami, Florida.

(Manny Hernandez via Getty Images)

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Trump allows herself one monthly baked potato with sour cream — her absolute favorite food, she said. 

"It is very important for people to be able to cheat sometimes," Mech says. 

Former New York Gov. David Patterson, a Democrat, made a surprise guest appearance, praising Trump for her efforts to fight one of the nation's most pressing public health problems. He also said he liked the food — especially the pasta with red sauce, served to attendees on silver platters. 

"One of the reasons people don't change their diets is because they think the food is going to taste worse," said Patterson, who championed New York's controversial soda tax. "Now, when I ate this pasta, it was no different from any other pasta." 

But the effort — arguably a marketing campaign for a private venture dressed up as a public health initiative — will surely find critics among health experts and others fighting the growing obesity crisis. 

Related: Trump's approval ratings by state 

48 PHOTOS
President Trump's January 2018 approval ratings by state
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President Trump's January 2018 approval ratings by state

Alabama - 63 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Alaska - 48 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Arkansas - 53 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Arizona - 53 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Connecticut - 39 percent

Source: Morning Consult

California - 36 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Colorado - 41 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Delaware - 41 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Delaware - 50 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Delaware - 41 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Hawaii - 30 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Iowa - 43 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Illinois - 37 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Idaho - 53 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Indiana - 53 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Kansas - 50 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Kentucky - 55 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Louisiana - 57 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Maine - 40 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Massachusetts - 32 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Michigan - 42 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Minnesota - 41 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Mississippi - 42 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Missouri - 42 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Montana - 41 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Nebraska - 51 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Nevada - 47 percent

Source: Morning Consult

New Hampshire - 43 percent

Source: Morning Consult

New Jersey - 40 percent

Source: Morning Consult

New Mexico - 38 percent

Source: Morning Consult

New York - 39 percent

Source: Morning Consult

North Dakota - 53 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Ohio - 46 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Oklahoma - 55 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Oregon - 37 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Pennsylvania - 46 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Rhode Island - 37 percent

Source: Morning Consult

South Carolina - 51 percent

Source: Morning Consult

South Dakota - 53 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Tennessee - 56 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Texas - 51 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Utah - 46 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Vermont - 30 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Virginia - 45 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Washington - 36 percent

Source: Morning Consult

West Virginia - 59 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Wisconsin - 42 percent

Source: Morning Consult

Wyoming - 60 percent

Source: Morning Consult

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Andy Bellatti, a registered dietitian and the cofounder of Dietitians for Professional Integrity, is skeptical of the effort and calls the program, which restricts certain foods including legumes and fruit, "unnecessarily complicated" and "sort of snake-oily."

"If you're doing a public health campaign, patented foods make no sense, tonics aren't necessary, you shouldn't be telling people they can't have fruits and beans," he said. "Americans don't need tonics right now. What they need is less sugar, less meat, and more plants." 

There will always demand for "a magic bullet" when it comes to weight-loss, Bellatti said, but sometimes there simply isn't one. 

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