May 7th, 2013
07:48 AM ET
9 years 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.

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"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. Reasonably

    Eat less. Move more.

    May 7, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  2. CraigRB

    Too bad Christie didn't do it for himself as well as the family. You've got to like yourself. He's a great guy but not spiritually evolved but, it'll happen.

    May 7, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  3. Marc

    "For his family".....if you believe THAT, then you deserve him as your President when you vote for him.

    May 7, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. abbydelabbey

    I don't care about his politics, but I do wish him the best of luck and a healthier life. I had gastric bypass to alleviate my diabetes and hypertension. I also lost a lot of weight. It's not easy but it's worth saving your health.

    Good luck, Gov. Christie!

    May 7, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  5. hemusbull

    Why for others? He must be first of all personaly responsible and to begin it for his own health. Just after that is coming the family ...and politics!

    May 7, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  6. gaucho420

    Now, I might actualy consider him, if he ever runs for President...that is, if he loses the weight!

    May 7, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  7. gaucho420

    Sue from Sioux City- Obama is a 2 term President who has succesfully led the country of the conservative malaise it was suffering. Chris Christie leads a joke of state. Get fing real.

    May 7, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  8. annieL

    I am glad there is at least one politician who admits to being less than a model of will power and self-control. I just hope he will have the courage to advocate for the rest of us as the health nazis try to deny us insurance and healthcare and jobs to make a living for ourselves and our families and tax us to death for our "poor choices." Even though I never have voted for a Republican, if Mr. Christie stood up for his fellow citizens who are overweight or addicted to tobacco and protected our dignity as human beings and our equal rights to healthcare and jobs, he would have my vote. The "blame the sick" campaign in this country is very, very mean and ugly and hurtful. Human beings are not perfect. Nobody does everything they've been told is "good for them" or stops doing everything they have been told is "bad for them." And medical science does not now or ever will know what causes disease in every person, whether genetics, diet, exposure to environmental substances, cultural and family influences, psychological makeup, or some combination of all. That's why Jesus taught "Judge not lest ye be judged." We don't know what makes other people do what they do that is beyond their control. We don't know what pressures they deal with every minute of their days. Life is hard for everyone. We cope with it the best we can. If that means eating a Twinkie or smoking a cigarette instead of going to the gym and leaving somebody else to take care of our kids for an hour or quitting our stressful job or divorcing our spouses, I say the fat person and the smoker is the better person. So Mr. Christie, stand proud and tall for yourself and the rest of us.

    May 7, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  9. Whatisthedeal

    Most of these comments are disgraceful. In fact, this whole articles presentation is disgraceful. Big headline "Secret Weight loss Surgery!" What are you CNN, a tabloid? We don't know his medical history, for all we know he might have one of those conditions where you can't lose weight properly. It doesn't matter, it's his business. And can someone remind me why he is a "sellout?" Thats the crappy world we live in. All these Republican/TeaPartiers you are so partisan that you get labeled a "sellout" to your party when all you do is say that the President did a good job responding in the early stages to Sandy. All you people need to grow up.
    And AL-NY,NY, that was hilarious.

    May 7, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  10. ManWithThe1000PoundBrain

    The fact that some GOPers here say that Christie is a sell out is why the GOP LOST last year and lost seats in both chambers of Congress. Christie is what the GOP used to be throughout most of the 20th century. You call people like Christie a "RINO" when in fact the current right wing fringe/tea party are the real RINOs.

    May 7, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  11. MLanders

    Wow! These comments are way harsh! How about he did it to live a healthier, longer, better quality of life and that is end of story.

    May 7, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  12. Jackie

    Christi thinks that's enough to get him to be President then he can get back to eating in the White House. After giving the State tax cuts for the wealthy in NJ and raising the price on everything in NJ he looks forward to doing the same as President. His support for Obama should get enough votes for those who can be played as fools and he will work on the Tea Party who love his Sopranos like talk and insult threats. Karl Rove will assure the Conservative votes as Christi will follow all the Republican agenda.

    May 7, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  13. ralph

    I'm not a fan of his politics, but I'm a big fan of his health improvements. His wife and kids deserve to have him for many more years.

    May 7, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  14. davidintel

    Must be running for President, good luck to him regarding his health.

    May 7, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  15. Seyedibar

    I suppose using willpower was far too risky.

    May 7, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  16. bptsj

    There are many weight loss surgery methods besides lap-band and stomach stapling. I had a duodenal switch (DS) surgery in 2005 and lost 110lbs. I've been at my target weight since 2006 and my BMI is 23. I actually had the surgery performed in Curitiba Brazil by a wonderful doctor.

    May 7, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  17. Pander Bear

    Sure it was for his family and nothing at all to do with positioning himself for a White House run. Sure.

    "Although Christie has lost some weight, the source told Tapper, the governor is 'not doing any victory laps'" ... If he had done more laps he wouldn't have needed the surgery.

    May 7, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  18. MBranch

    Meanwhile, Christie has reached the highest office he'll ever attain.

    May 7, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  19. Dee

    He just proved that society does not except fat peolpe and from most of the comments here that is proven over and over again. I wonder when he gets thinner if he will be a better person because you know , thin people are better than eveyone else!!!

    May 7, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  20. Al-NY,NY

    Peoples State of Illinois

    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.

    and it will do NOTHING to hurt Obama or Hillary so it is a fairy tale pie in the sky issue for the tightie righties who have nothing else to blather about

    May 7, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  21. scotty501

    Too bad he never addressed the issue he was medicating with food. Addiction is addiction. My opinion

    May 7, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  22. bluedogboy

    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.


    Yes, he sold out to get the proper funds needed to re-build your state. What a "sell-out"!

    May 7, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  23. Kevin

    lol ts, the taxpayers didnt pay for your weight loss? Seriously bro are you that dense? Who do you think pays for gyms to stay afloat? Just yourself? What about the taxes on the food you buy? Just you? Dont be a selfish prude and be glad that the guy is doing something about his health..I may disagree with him on his politics, but at least he is doing something about his weight. Which is doubtful for many other obese Americans who still keep on eating their fried food and processed burgers...

    May 7, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  24. Kyle

    Even if you don't exercise regularly eating less is key to losing weight. And I don't mean skipping meals; its amazing what right size portions can do for you.

    May 7, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  25. Sue

    eh...he needed to do it regardless of his reasoning. He should have done it a long time ago.

    May 7, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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