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A guide to NJ Gov. Christie's weight-loss surgery

Wednesday - 5/8/2013, 6:02pm  ET

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses the media during the groundbreaking ceremony for TEAL Center at Essex County Newark Tech, Tuesday, May 7, 2013, in Newark, N.J. Reports say Christie secretly underwent a weight-loss surgery in February, when a band was placed around his stomach to restrict the amount of food he can eat. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

GEOFF MULVIHILL
Associated Press

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who is seen as a possible presidential candidate for 2016, said Tuesday that he underwent a procedure in February to have a band implanted around his stomach in February in an effort to lose weight.

A look at the procedure, his decision, and what it might mean:

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THE SURGERY

Christie says he decided around the time he turned 50 on Sept. 6 that he wanted to have the procedure. It was originally scheduled for November but pushed back to February after Superstorm Sandy hit his state.

The procedure is the least invasive of the major weight-loss surgeries, and it's reversible. An adjustable band is placed around the stomach to restrict how much food someone can eat at once.

Compared to other procedures, weight loss is relatively slow -- no more than 1 or 2 pounds per week. Patients still have to eat healthy foods and get exercise for the procedure to be successful, doctors say.

Christie says he underwent the 40-minute procedure on Feb. 16, went home later that day and was back at work after two more days of rest.

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THE REASON

Christie has struggled with his weight throughout his adult life, though he has never said publicly how much he weighs. He says that he has no other major health problems but knows that obesity is a risk for a variety of conditions.

"It's not a career issue for me. It's a long-term health issue for me. That's the basis on which I made the decision."

He said he wants to make sure he's there for his family and denied that he decided to have the surgery to advance his re-election campaign this year or a future run for president, if he decides to embark on one.

He said he presented the idea of the surgery to his wife and four children and they encouraged him to do it.

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THE SECRECY

Christie says he told only a few staff members about the operation and did not intend to make a public announcement. "It's not anybody else's business but mine," he said.

But when he was asked directly by a New York Post reporter on Monday, he said he decided to acknowledge he had had the operation. He said the revelation was news to practically everybody, including his communications office and campaign staff.

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THE TIMING

Though Christie says he intended to keep his procedure a personal matter, The Post's article came out the same day as MSNBC personality Mika Brzezinski's book, "Obsessed: America's Food Addiction -- And My Own," was released. The book features an interview with Christie about his struggles with his weight. It's a topic he has discussed in many national television interviews with questioners from Oprah Winfrey to David Letterman, and for years he has both joked about his size and said it's a serious problem that he's been working on.

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THE POLITICS

While Christie says the surgery was a personal decision about his health -- something he called "a hell of a lot more important to me than running for president," there could be political implications.

Some critics have suggested that Christie's weight could be a political hindrance.

"Gov. Christie's weight is an issue the same way that any candidate or official's health is an issue," said Michael Dennehy, a New Hampshire-based Republican strategist and veteran of presidential politics. "Anyone running for president will need to comfort Americans with an overall healthy picture for their future."

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THE ROUTINE

Christie says he's been working with a personal trainer four times a week for years, and is continuing now.

He says he has not been as hungry since the surgery and has eaten less.

While he appears to be a bit thinner, Christie would not say Thursday how much weight he as lost.


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