New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appears to have shed as many as 85 pounds since his lap-band surgery last year and looks to be down to a healthier 230-something weight, according to experts.
After a constituent remarked on the governor’s noticeably slimmed-down physique at a town hall meeting last week, POLITICO asked two experts to estimate the governor’s weight loss by comparing several pictures of him from 2011 with recent photos.
“I think he is making progress, absolutely, for what I would expect at this point of the process,” said Jessica Barfield, a doctor of internal medicine specializing in nutrition and weight management at Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care in Melrose Park, Illinois.
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Both Barfield and David L. Katz, a director at the Prevention Research Center at Yale University’s School of Medicine, estimated that, based on the photos, in 2011 Christie had a body mass index of about 45, which would put his weight at about 322 pounds. That’s considered extreme obesity. In the photos taken in 2014, Christie appears to have dropped to a BMI of 33, or roughly 236 pounds, the doctors said.
“I’ve determined the BMI in lots of patients, and you get an impression for it, just the same way that all of us can look at somebody and probably estimate their height,” Katz said, explaining his estimate.
Christie, a potential 2016 Republican presidential contender, hasn’t publicly disclosed his weight or how many pounds he’s lost since the operation.
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Both doctors characterized Christie’s weight loss as on track with what would be expected at this point in the process a year or so after the surgery, and they suggested the governor would likely lose more weight over time.
Christie’s weight made headlines in February 2013 after former White House physician Connie Mariano said in an interview with CNN, “I’m worried about this man dying in office.” “It’s almost like a time bomb waiting to happen unless he addresses those issues before running for office,” Mariano added.
In October, Rachana Kulkarni, Christie’s cardiologist, released a letter that said the governor had “no medical limitations and is fit to serve as the Governor of the state of New Jersey.” The note also said that Christie, in addition to having the lap-band surgery, “adopted a healthy lifestyle including a healthy diet and regular cardiovascular exercise regimen.”
At a town hall meeting Wednesday in Ocean County, a woman told Christie, “By the way, you do look fantastic.” The governor responded by saying that his wife is urging him to buy new suits but that he is on a budget. “I gotta be careful, you know?” he joked.
Christie said at the meeting that he is “much smaller” now than he used to be.
The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Christie’s weight-loss results seem to align with those of New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, who had lap-band surgery in March 2010 and reportedly offered Christie advice about the procedure. Ryan said recently he had lost over 130 pounds.