New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has both joked about his weight and said that it's a real concern, secretly underwent a weight-loss surgery in February that experts say could help him if he gets exercise and watches what he eats.
The father of four agreed to the surgery, in which a band was placed around his stomach to restrict the amount of food he can eat, after turning 50 in September, spokesman Michael Drewniak confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday. Christie told The New York Post, which first reported the surgery, that he said he wasn't motivated by thoughts of running for president.
"I've struggled with this issue for 20 years," he told the newspaper. "For me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them."
Christie has never disclosed his weight, but it's been an issue throughout his political career. Christie said four years ago that then-Gov. Jon Corzine was bringing it up in a campaign commercial that accused Christie of "throwing his weight around" to get out of traffic tickets.
Comics including Jimmy Kimmel and David Letterman also have made fun of it. In interviews with Letterman, Orpah Winfrey, Barbara Walters and others, Christie has both joked about the issue and said solemnly that he's trying to shed pounds.
During a February appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman," the governor pulled out a doughnut and said his girth was "fair game" for comedians.
Christie was soon angered by comments from a former White House physician who said she worried about him dying in office. The governor said Dr. Connie Mariano should "shut up."
Ten days after that, on Feb. 16, Christie had the surgery. He said the operation lasted 40 minutes and he was home the same afternoon.
Christie, who is in the midst of a re-election campaign, declined to say how much weight he has lost since the surgery.
"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 told the Post.
The Republican governor is running for a second term in November, although his name is often mentioned as a possible presidential candidate.