Chris Christie’s weight-loss surgery feeds talk he could run for the White House in 2016
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Tuesday 07 May 2013
When Chris Christie briefly considered a bid for the White House in 2011, many suggested the popular New Jersey Governor was too fat to be President. However, if he decides to run in 2016 his weight may be less of a burden; in an interview with the New York Post, Christie has revealed that he underwent secret gastric-band surgery earlier this year, and observers say it is already paying off.
The Republican said he decided to have the operation after turning 50 last year. He checked into the hospital under a pseudonym on 16 February, and went home later that day, telling only his family and his chief of staff.
The 40-minute procedure involves placing a silicone band around the stomach to reduce its size and so limit the amount of food it can hold. Christie said: “A week or two ago, I went to a steakhouse and ordered a steak and ate about a third of it and I was full.”
He insisted his decision to undergo surgery was motivated not by ambition, but by his wife and four children. “I’ve struggled with this issue for 20 years,” he told the Post. “I know it sounds crazy to say 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’.”
Christie has never revealed his precise weight, and declined to disclose how much he has lost. In December 2012, he told ABC News that he was “trying” to lose weight. “I’ve had more diets and lost and gained back more weight than I’d care to count,” he said. In an interview, with talk-show host David Letterman, he agreed his flab was “fair game” for comedians. But, he said: “I’m basically the healthiest fat guy you’ve ever seen in your life.”
Not everybody agreed. While Christie won support due to his energetic response to Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the New Jersey coastline last October, Dr Connie Mariano, a former White House physician, had told CNN that she was worried “he may have a heart attack … I’m worried he may have a stroke”. Christie responded by saying that Mariano had never treated him, and so “should shut up” about his health.
He does intend to run for a second term as New Jersey Governor this November and has reportedly already raised more than $6m (£3.9m) in campaign donations. But he is also widely touted as a favourite for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. And Washington insiders suggest the weight-loss surgery will help.
Mike Huckabee, the former Republican governor of Arkansas, shed more than 110lbs in advance of his running for the Presidency back in 2008. Huckabee completed several marathons and he even wrote a self-help book , chronicling his weight-loss, called Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork.
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