February 5th, 2013
04:14 PM ET
2 years ago

Former WH doc on Christie: 'I'm worried about this man dying in office'

Washington (CNN) - Potential 2016 presidential candidate Chris Christie may be able to take the punch lines about his waistline. The popular New Jersey governor made light of his weight in an appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman" Monday night.

"I'm basically the healthiest fat guy you've ever seen in your life," Christie joked.

But one medical expert on presidential health cautioned Christie's obesity is no laughing matter.

"I'm worried he may have a heart attack. I'm worried he may have a stroke," former White House physician Connie Mariano, M.D. said in an interview with CNN.

And, in fact, Christie acknowledges as much as recently as Tuesday when asked about his Late Show appearance.

"I have been remarkably healthy. My doctor continues to warn me my luck is going to run out relatively soon. So, believe me, it is something that I am very conscious of," Christie said.

Mariano, who served nine years as a doctor in the White House medical unit said Christie's obesity would certainly become an issue should he run for the presidency in 2016. She warned a future President Christie could suffer from potentially deadly complications from diabetes, sleep apnea, and heart disease.

"It's almost a like a time bomb waiting to happen unless he addresses those issues before running for office," Mariano said.

During the 1990's, Mariano helped then-President Bill Clinton in his own struggles with losing weight. She recalled how Saturday Night Live once lampooned Mr. Clinton as an insatiable junk food addict, pounding Big Macs from McDonalds.

After Clinton stumbled on some steps and tore a quadriceps tendon, Mariano said she worked with the White House chef and a personal trainer to help the president lose nearly 30 pounds.

All of that explains why Mariano winced when she saw Christie munch on a donut while waiting for Letterman to ask a question to the delight of a studio audience Monday night. She said her words of caution should not be viewed through any partisan lens.

"I'm a Republican. I like Chris Christie. I want him to run. I just want him to lose weight," Mariano said. "I'm a physician more than I'm a Democrat or Republican. And I'm worried about this man dying in office."

In Union, New Jersey Tuesday following a meeting with Hurricane Sandy victims, the 50 year old governor also told reporters he has a plan to get in shape.

"Be assured there is a plan. Whether it's successful or not, you'll all be able to notice," Christie said.

The governor shrugged off the notion that he is not taking his health seriously.

"The idea that somehow, you know, I don't care about this – of course I care about it. And I am making the best effort I can," Christie said.

Christie's office tweeted out the comments in a video link to the governor's followers on Twitter Tuesday afternoon.

Mariano said Christie could set a good example for the nation's growing population of obese children and teen-agers.

"He could actually save lives out there if he turned around and did something with his weight and became healthy," Mariano said.

After serving both Democratic and Republican presidents, Mariano said she is offering her medical advice to Christie in large part because he remains a strong potential contender for the White House.

"I'm dead serious," she said.


Filed under: 2016 • Chris Christie
soundoff (166 Responses)
  1. nothing new here

    I would be more concerned about who Christie would choose as a running mate.
    But the GOP is getting ready to implode anyway. The family feuding is taking a toll. The establishment Republicans are in a tug-of-war with the more conservative base. So whether Christie makes it through the vetting process – well that remains to be seen.

    February 5, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    I hope he listens. No one deserves to lose a husband, a parent, a friend if its preventable.

    February 5, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  3. silvertop

    Good for the lady doctor who spoke the truth. No offense to overweight people. Obesity is a serious health risk. She is well intentioned.

    February 5, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  4. Wilson

    She is right. He is a dead man walking if he does not start making healthy changes. How complicated can a plan be to eat healthy portions and exercise. He needs some pressure from those who love him.

    February 5, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. Anthony in California

    Obesity IS a serious problem is America. To ignore it is just plain ignorant.

    February 5, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. Michael

    Christie and Hillary Clinton should take better care of themselves if they want to be arouund to run in 2016.

    February 5, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  7. Lynda

    Who cares about his weight. If he wanted to lose it and be healthy, he would, just like any other American. Can we. ya know, talk about something like what he is going to do about major issues, such as, competing against Obama for his 3rd term, or drones killing American citizens, poverty, education, anything?

    February 5, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "Who cares about his weight. If he wanted to lose it and be healthy, he would, just like any other American. Can we. ya know, talk about something like what he is going to do about major issues, such as, competing against Obama for his 3rd term, or drones killing American citizens, poverty, education, anything?"

    It's so cute when rabid, ignorance woshipping, tinfoil hatted Teatrolls try to co-opt issues that irritate the left about Obama in a desperately disingenuous attempt to try to stir up dissent, disarray and feelings of disaffectation among liberals. It doesn't work, but boy is it fun to watch someone who would support the very first neo-con to throw his hat in the ring try to mix together talking points that complain about drone usage with an accusation that Obama will try to get a thrid term. Moronic, but entertaining.

    February 5, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  9. The NRA is a T e r r o r i st organisation....Arming Mentally Unbalanced People to Kill Innocent Children

    Wonder why Christie would joke about this with Letterman? It's not funny....but I'm not surprise, the GOP & Rush Limbaugh will blame Michelle Obama for teaching our school children how to eat their vegetables....and Wayne Lapierre will teach our kids how to shoot a gun.......so he can guaranty more gun sales to gun manufacturers & more lobbyist money lining his deep pockets!!!

    Why eat vegetables when you can own a gun....it's for your own protection?!!!! – the NRA

    February 5, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  10. nothing new here

    Lynda

    Who cares about his weight. If he wanted to lose it and be healthy, he would, just like any other American. Can we. ya know, talk about something like what he is going to do about major issues, such as, competing against Obama for his 3rd term, or drones killing American citizens, poverty, education, anything?
    _________________
    I tend to agree with this comment. Thank you Linda.

    February 5, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  11. nothing new here

    Sniffit,

    With all due respect,
    I am a independent voter with Libertarian leanings. I don't like the idea of legislating morality, and that includes issues of people's weight.
    I think the point some of us are trying to make is this – I am more concerned about Christie's platform concerning major issues that will affect the average American. Even though I think Christie should, ahhhh, exercise more, then again, I don't exactly work out much either. :)

    February 5, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  12. Lynda/Minnesota

    "It's so cute when rabid, ignorance woshipping, tinfoil hatted Teatrolls try to co-opt issues that irritate the left about Obama in a desperately disingenuous attempt to try to stir up dissent, disarray and feelings of disaffectation among liberals. It doesn't work, but boy is it fun to watch someone who would support the very first neo-con to throw his hat in the ring try to mix together talking points that complain about drone usage with an accusation that Obama will try to get a thrid term. Moronic, but entertaining."
    ---------------–

    Bless their hearts, I suppose we could give them a D for their efforts. For as obvious as they are, they do try.

    I really enjoyed this latest post of yours, Sniffit. Keep popping the popcorn ... we're running low.

    February 5, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  13. Angela

    Christie definitely needs to lose weight regardless if he is going to run for president or not. The job as potus is stressful enough (look at Obama's pictures from 2009 to present), add obesity to the mix and he is in for serious trouble.

    February 5, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  14. yippeeskip

    Sounds like a liberal...

    February 5, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  15. Andy

    So long as he doesn't pick a TP nut for VP.

    February 5, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  16. bankrupt1

    i could whip him into shape in no time. swim, bike, run. check him for allergies and infections. deal with trauma. stop eating corn and corn derivatives (maybe all grain). and whatever else he is allergic to. lower the oxalates (coffee, tea, rhubarb, spinach, etc). drop the carbs. tell him not to listen to front orgs (AMA, AHA, ADA for sure). unlearn all of the lies, start over. real food.

    February 5, 2013 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  17. Bangla Khorgosh

    I have been walking for over 100 KM a week for over 6 months – every week, have been running, interval training and not eating much starch at all. I have not drank any soda/juice since at least 1998 and have been drinking at least 4 liters of water a day. I never went to McDonald's or to KFC or to Burger King within the past 7 years or so. I was a regular drinker and a chain smoker – but I gave up on my smoking many years ago (4 packs of red Marlborough cigarettes) and gave up on my regular drinking at least 8 years ago. Of course I love wine and I do drink a glass or two red wine over weekend special dinner time. I am 50 and recently I ran few half marathons and would like to run NYC Marathon if I am lucky to get an entry.

    I have been trying to lose 2 KG of my weight for the past year or so and I am in no luck. Once you have it, getting rid of that LOVE is tough.

    Good luck Gov. Christie. Hope you make a miracle.

    February 5, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  18. remoter

    Food addiction is the same as any addiction. You have to hit bottom before you can change yourself. Hopefully he will do so before it's too late.

    February 5, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  19. Eric of Reseda

    "Mr. Clinton"?!? I'm sorry, but we refer to past presidents as "President". Anything less is disrespectful.

    February 5, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  20. ChicagoJohn

    Yes...and I just learned Christie said he would be "more ready in 2016" not "more than ready." Two entirely different meanings. Why would Carol Costello keep quoting him as saying, "more than ready" last month? Reporting the facts every so often would be appreciated.

    February 5, 2013 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  21. timedonkey

    The doughnut was Freudian, and to say that he is concerned about the issue at all seems like denial.

    February 5, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  22. CNN is full of it

    I see that CNN is already gearing up for their leftist stance in 2016. Never to early to start bashing potential candidates of the GOP. Where is your story on Obama's smoking problem? Out the many contenders for crap/fluff news you are ranking very high on the charts.

    February 5, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  23. DISCRIMINATION

    Its really no ones business to be pointing a finger at this guys weight. Most of you posting are over weight anyways..and honestly, We can go down the line about all the older politicians in office that may just KICK THE BUCKET because of old age..esp in the republican party.......it is discrimination at its WORST FORM..

    That would be like saying a compay shouldnt hire anyone with ANY Health issue becasue they are too much of a risk of health..

    Americans have hit rock bottom to be able to discriminate people against their helath in any way..

    Shame on that doctor for being unethical..there are HIPPA LAWS

    February 5, 2013 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  24. Ernie

    I watched Christie at a news conference after Hurricane Sandy. He had trouble completing a sentence in a single breath. Even when he wasn't speaking, you could hear him take a breath every 3-4 seconds. He's not a healthy man.

    February 5, 2013 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  25. Nikki 2012

    The Dr. is right. Christie is the "poster child" for obesity and poor health. If he got his weight under control, it would be a great example to the millions of over weight people in this country. Why should we care about that, Libertarians? Because health costs are rising exponentially due, in large part, to diseases caused by obesity. Doesn't matter if health care is private or public, we all pay for it one way or the other.

    February 5, 2013 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
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