New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a rising star in the Republican party touted as a possible presidential contender in 2016, confirmed Tuesday he had undergone weight loss surgery.
The politician — who has received negative press over his weight — said he had had a gastric band implanted three months ago, though he insisted the decision had nothing to do with his political ambitions.
“It’s not a career issue for me, it is a long-term health issue,” Christie told reporters at a press conference.
He said, after making many attempts to shed pounds over the years, the surgery was “an opportunity to try something different.”
A gastric band, placed around the stomach, limits the quantity of food that a person can eat.
The governor said he hadn’t discussed the procedure for three months after his February 16 operation because it was “nobody else’s business.”
The former prosecutor rose to national prominence during Hurricane Sandy last year, which struck New Jersey hard.
His weight and possible related health issues, however, would likely be an immediate issue if he made a run for the White House, and have already become targets in US news.
Last December, the 50-year-old became exasperated, saying it was “ridiculous” to think his weight would make him a poor president.
“That’s ridiculous. I mean, that’s ridiculous. People watched me for the last number of weeks in Hurricane Sandy doing 18-hour days, so I don’t really think that would be a problem,” he said during an interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters.
He said he had tried to slim down. “If I could figure that out, I would fix it,” he said. “I’ve had more diets and lost and gained back more weight in my life than I could count.”
Christie, elected to his first term as governor in 2009, declined to attempt a presidential bid in October 2011.
But he was one of the top speakers at the Republican convention last year, and he is already perceived as a strong contender for Republicans in 2016, especially after his popularity soared from his handling of Hurricane Sandy.
More than a third of US adults are considered obese, according to official statistics.