New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie secretly underwent lap-band stomach surgery in February amid concern from his family and friends over his weight.
“I’ve struggled with this issue for 20 years,” Christie told the New York Post, which broke the story.
The move comes after years of concern and criticism over Christie’s girth, especially as he has been repeatedly mentioned as a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. But Christie insisted in an interview with the Post that his move was not motivated by politics—but rather a desire to be there for his wife and kids as he gets older.
“For me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them,” Christie said. Asked specifically about his political future, Christie insisted the surgery was “so much more important than that.”
According to the Post, Christie agreed to the surgery last fall after his 50th birthday. He had surgery on Feb. 16—checking into the facility under a false name after several secret visits with a doctor, the Post reports. ABC News reported that only Christie’s immediate family and chief of staff knew of the procedure. The rest of his staff was told Monday, ahead of the Post story. A Christie aide did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The timing is notable because only a week before his surgery Christie publicly lambasted a former White House physician for publicly suggesting he needed to lose weight if he had any desire to seek the presidency. Dr. Connie Mariano, who worked for nine years in the White House medical unit and served Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said that Christie called and yelled at her for her comments.
Lap-band surgery aims to help a person lose weight by inserting a silicone tube around the top of a patient’s stomach, helping him feel more full and limiting the amount of food he can eat.
While Christie did not reveal how much weight he’s lost so far, the governor insisted the surgery is working. He said he recently went to a steakhouse where he ate only a third of a steak instead of the whole thing.