May 7th, 2013
07:48 AM ET
1 year ago

Christie reveals weight loss surgery

Washington (CNN) - A few months after turning 50 years old, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie secretly underwent lap-band surgery in February for the sake of his wife and kids, a source close to the governor confirmed to CNN.

Christie told the New York Post, which first reported the story early Tuesday morning, that the invasive procedure came after his family and friends urged him to start improving his health.

"I've struggled with this issue for 20 years," he said. "For me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them."

Christie had the 40 minute long surgery on Saturday, February 16, a source close to Christie tells CNN Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper, and was back to work by the following Tuesday.

His concerns over the "minimally invasive procedure," according to the source, were allayed by the fact that Dr. George Fielding would be operating on him. Fielding has done the procedure many times and even had the surgery himself, the source told Tapper, anchor of CNN's "The Lead."

Although Christie has lost some weight, the source told Tapper, the governor is "not doing any victory laps" and knows this is just the beginning of the weight loss process.

In an interview with the Post, Christie says his surgery was solely for his children and wife, but almost anything the Republican governor does is seen through the lens of a possible presidential run in 2016. Christie, in an interview with the Post, attempted to squash any speculation.

"It's so much more important than that," Christie said. "I know it sounds crazy to say that running for president is minor, but in the grand scheme of things, it was looking at Mary Pat and the kids and going, 'I have to do this for them, even if I don't give a crap about myself.'"

READ MORE: How Christie surgery weighs on 2016

A "tight circle" of top staff knew about the procedure, a source close to the governor told CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

"They were the right people; he had to make sure a small circle knew. But it was mostly family who knew," the source said, adding the the catalyst was Christie's 50th birthday.

"He had been thinking about it for a while, and working on it (weight loss)" through diet and exercise, the source said. And while the source can't discount the presidential considerations entirely, the source added "this was more about his kids and his family."

Are there any potential downsides?

"Everyone will be watching" as every pound does (or does not) come off, the source said. The upside is that it "humanizes him."

"(The) struggle is something he can talk about," the source added, also noting that when Christie attended the George W. Bush Presidential Center dedication ceremony last month, some noticed he had shed some pounds.

OPINION: Congrats Gov. Christie: You saved your life

Christie's weight has been an issue of fodder for comedians and journalists alike, but primarily because the governor is regularly self-deprecating about the issue.

Earlier this year, while comedian David Letterman was offering a lengthy apology to the governor for all of the weight jokes he had made on his late night comedy show, Christie played along by reaching into his pocket and grabbing a donut.

"I didn't know this was going to take so long," Christie said to the laughing audience. He continued to joke about his weight during the interview, telling Letterman that he is "basically the healthiest fat guy you've ever seen in your life."

In response to the bit, a former White House doctor told CNN National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta that she "winced" at the routine and questioned whether Christie's weight would hold him back on a presidential run.

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

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.

In response, Christie said unless Mariano has given him a physical exam, "she should shut up."

"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 at a press conference before he had the surgery in February.

"In terms of people in the state being concerned about whether or not it prevents me from being able to do my job effectively, I think they've seen the results of that," Christie said.

Christie's weight was in issue in his 2009 run for governor, when he defeated Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine. Christie's girth was portrayed unflatteringly in campaign ads by Corzine's campaign. But Christie's weight has not been an issue as he runs this year for re-election to a second term. A Quinnipiac University poll of New Jersey voters conducted in March indicated that 68% of Garden State voters were comfortable with an overweight candidate, with just 17% holding reservations.

Lap-band surgery entails a doctor fitting a band around the stomach in order to make the organ smaller. It helps people lose weight because as someone eats, the smaller stomach feels fuller faster, thereby cutting down on the amount of food someone consumes. As the lap-band recipient loses weight, doctors can add saline to the band to shrink the stomach even more.

The surgery is considered a less dangerous alternative to gastric bypass, where a doctor shrinks the size of a stomach by dividing the stomach into two using staples.

In July 2012, Christie told ABC that gastric bypass was "too risky" of a surgery for him.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story.


Filed under: 2016 • Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (351 Responses)
  1. joe mauro

    Think of all the pasta,bread, wine,cheese,meat balls ,sausage and cannollis he can whoff down now!!!!A whole new body to abuse all at tax payer expense,

    May 7, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  2. bluedogboy

    A surgery for cheaters. The man has no will. If you want to lose weight, stop eating bad food and exercise.

    Oh well, whatever works for the liberal governor from New Jersey.

    May 7, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  3. jack 3

    This shows his lack of self discipline. we don't need that and his lack of loyalty in the white house. If he runs he should run on a democratic ticket. Either way, he will lose.

    May 7, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  4. Darlene Buckingham

    I know somebody who had this operation and did not lose a pound – the only way to lose weight is to eat less, eat more nutritious foods and exercise. This goes for everything. It is so sad that we think pills and vaccines are going to keep us healthy when it is lifestyle , good food, clean water, fresh air, exercise, rest and stress management that keeps us fit. God help us that we have gone so far off the path to living a healthy vital life.

    May 7, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. Al-NY,NY

    scott

    Christie sold out to Obama and even us Republicans do not like him, if he is running he better run as a Democrat. I don't like sell outs.
    ------------------

    you must love the Reichswehreid......."I swear by God this holy oath, that I want to offer unconditional obedience to the (leader) of the (American Taliban) and people, (Grover Norquist/Rush Limbaugh), the commander-in-chief of the (Purity Party), and be prepared as a brave soldier to risk my life for this oath at any time.

    May 7, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. Skeptic

    The late night talk show hosts are in mourning. One less politician/celebrity to make fun of.

    May 7, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  7. Pete

    I'm glad Christie is being more serious than before about his weight problem because a man in his shape wouldn't last campaigning 24/7 like Pres.Obama did and that was for months running for his first term wasn't it..Christie can now say no to his twinkies and walkaway knowing his monkey on his back is no longer there..See yah 100lbs lighter and happier guy ,again its about time!!

    May 7, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  8. Debbie

    Good for Christie. But he didn't do it for his family or he would have done that long ago. No, Christi has zero chance, of running for a higher office being over-weight. Now it will come down to if people in 50 states like his leadership style and his policy stances.

    May 7, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. Chantel

    I had gastric bypass in December 2005 and it was the best decision I have ever made. I have lost 140 lbs and kept it off. I was 29 years old and just like Gov. Christie I was healthy in ALL aspects of my life except when I stepped on the scale. It is a battle daily and by no means is it the 'easy way out' but for some it is the only solution. 7 and a half years later I am still considered obese according to the BMI chart but I am in no way unhealthy. I still eat smaller portions, stay away from carbonated drinks and alcohol and work out at the local gym 3 days a week. 7 and a half years later I am absolutely happy with my decsion. Congrats Gov. Christie I wish you only the best!!!!

    May 7, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. Norm

    And when he says his family he really means the 2016 presidential bid.

    May 7, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  11. adam

    I wish him the best of health, but this was not for his family. If it was, he would have done it a long time ago. This was for a better image in the 2016 election. pure and simple.

    May 7, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  12. TexaSam

    Yep, he wants to run in 2016. There's no way he could handle the stress of all that campaigning & travel at his current weight – regardless of how healthy he claims his doctor tells him he is. It's just a fact that heavy people have more pressure on their feet, knees, back, etc.... not to mention the added cardiovascular issues. He must lose the weight to be able to maintain a fast paced, exhausting and long campaign for the WH. I said 2 years ago that we will know he wants the job when he starts a weight loss process. He's on schedule.

    May 7, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  13. nativebendite

    He is running for president and already not telling the truth...he did it because he wants to become president and his health would be in question if he was extremely overweight. Give the American public a little more credit Mr. Christie, we are not that stupid.

    May 7, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  14. Sue from Sioux City

    I see a lot of posts asking how Christie can control a country if he, like smokers and drinkers, can't control his vice. Our current president cannot control his smoking vice, so how is this a good argument? Besides that, it's not the president's job to "control" the country. It's his job to protect our nation and be a good leader. President Obama is a lousy leader and has never successfully led a government. Chris Christie, as governor, is successfully leading New Jersey.

    May 7, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  15. grumpy

    Motivation for health and family is good, but the surgery will also assist in the GOP Presidential 2016 nomination and perhaps the federal election as well.

    May 7, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  16. So What?

    1 – Good to see him taking care of himself for his and his family's sake.

    2 – Christie will never be a national candidate. So, hopefully, NJ will be willing to use him in his current role for as long as they like him.

    May 7, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  17. Namerob

    Just wondering who paid for the surgery. Was it paid for by his taxpayer funded government healthcare? Or did he pay out of pocket? Given his position on Obamacare and Medicare, I don't find it unreasonable to ask.

    May 7, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  18. Margaret

    Whatever his reasons I wish him well. It is not easy losing weight, eating is something we have to do. I suspect his kid coming home and asking if he was going to die played a part of it. Though it bothers me that he said "even if I don't give a crap about myself". He needs to ask why he is even saying that. Good luck with your effort Governor, may you have many happy years with your family.

    May 7, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. IvotedforObama

    He did it for a woman named 2016. Too bad a woman named Hillary will end up beating him.

    May 7, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  20. gf333

    Lap band surgery circumvents the biggest obstacle people face with weight loss ... themselves.

    May 7, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  21. Carol Hudson

    Give the guy a break. He gets criticized for being too fat and now is being criticized for trying to do something about it. While I'm all about the ideal of "exercise more and eat less" as a weight loss philosophy, Chris was so big that he really needed something drastic. I hope it's the first of many steps in the right direction.

    May 7, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  22. Jackie Whitt

    Good for him. I like this man. He says what he does. Good health to him. I hope he does very well. He is a good governor and I believe he is for the people not the party. I am a demo and will probably vote for Hillary if she runs.

    May 7, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  23. Peoples State of Illinois

    @C

    Heath

    This is GREAT, CNN can report on a republican's weight loss program... but not ONE article about the President's cover up of Benghazi?!?!?

    May 7, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
    -–

    Head over to FOX if you want to hear fairy tales.
    -----------–
    It is proving to be no "fairy tale," no matter how much the left wishes it were so.

    May 7, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  24. Leo B.

    To those of you who are saying the surgury is the easy way out or he should show some discipline, try walking a mile in their shoes. I had a friend who was a a great guy, but he was morbidly obese, but he tried to live life to the fullest, he even bought a motorcycle with a custom plate "w-load", he tried every weight loss program you can imagine. He once lost 200 pounds on Atkins, but like so many he couldn't keep it off . Finally his doctor told him that he needed to have bariatric surgury to lose the weight because his obesity was dangerous. My friend decided one more time to try a weight loss program instead, but he never got to finish because he died in his sleep one night.

    May 7, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  25. Is There a Point to This?

    Agree that Christie will never be a candidate with any success on the national stage. But I also see him as being very close to a Charlie Crist role. The GOP has gone on record with so many comments against him, that their own party will never be behind him. The ONLY people that have helped him is people on the left and center.

    May 7, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15