Weight-Loss Surgeries: Does Success Offset Controversy?

Big Chris Christie, New Jersey governor, has had weight-loss surgery.  We’ll look at the buzz and controversy around gastric bypass surgery, lap bands and more.

This April 30, 2013 file photo shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during a town hall meeting on Long Beach Island, in Long Beach Township, N.J. (Mel Evans/AP File)

This April 30, 2013 file photo shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during a town hall meeting on Long Beach Island, in Long Beach Township, N.J. (Mel Evans/AP File)

New Jersey governor Chris Christie is a big guy.  Between 300 and 350 was the weight most people guessed, while he joked with a doughnut on David Letterman and told critics of his heavy poundage to back off.

But early this year, Chris Christie secretly did what a growing number of heavy Americans are doing these days.  The big governor had weight loss surgery.  Brought the doctors in to do it. Word is he’s lost forty pounds.

So, is it a good idea ? For him?  For the country? To be banding and stapling our stomachs for weight loss?

Up next On Point: Chris Christie, big America, and weight loss surgery.

— Tom Ashbrook


Dan Goldberg, health reporter for The Newark Star-Ledger. (@DanGoldbergSL)

Dr. Robin Blackstone, medical director and bariatric surgeon at the Scottsdale Healthcare Bariatric Center and former president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. (@rblackstonemd)

Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women and Families and author of the 2011 New York Times op-ed “Playing With The Band.”

Marion Nestle, professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. Author of “Food Politics” and “What To Eat.” Co-author of “Why Calories Count.” (@marionnestle)

Mark Ambinder, contributing editor at The Atlantic. He underwent gastric bypass surgery and wrote about his experience in the 2010 Atlantic piece “Beating Obesity.” (@marcambinder)

Show Highlights


Animation of lap band surgery:

Animation of gastric bypass surgery:

Chris Christie eats a doughnut on “The Late Show With David Letterman”:

Tweets From During The Show

From Tom’s Reading List

The Atlantic: Chris Christie: Fit To Be President? — “If Americans embrace Christie and his journey, the stigma around these procedures will become less of a barrier to participation. Few high-profile Americans, with the exception of Al Roker, have openly talked about gastric bypass. I understand why Christie would want to keep the fact of his surgery secret for a while, because medical procedures are private. But I applaud him for coming out, as it were, as the most famous American to discuss his weight loss surgery.”

The Los Angeles Times: Chris Christie’s Weight-Loss Surgery: How Does It Work? — “Banding procedures are less invasive than other types of bariatric surgeries. All of them ‘foster rapid weight loss by surgically reshaping the intestinal tract,’ as the Los Angeles Times reported in February. ‘To varying degrees, they aim to reduce the stomach’s capacity, decrease the calories and nutrients absorbed from food, and change the chemical signals of fullness that are passed between the brain, the gut and the endocrine system.'”

WBUR: Weight-Loss Surgeon: Christie-Style Secrecy Common, Stigma Lingers — “We don’t know the reason but we think there’s still sort of a stigma to having weight-loss surgery. So even though we’re doing 150,000 weight-loss operations a year [in the United States], there’s the idea that if you have a weight-loss operation you’re somehow ‘taking the easy way out.’ You’re kind of ‘cheating.’ You’re just not tough enough to do the diet and exercise required for weight loss. You’re somehow ‘weak,’ right?”

WBUR: After Losing 322 Pounds, One Man’s Thoughts On Christie Surgery — “We would love to sit down with him and talk with him about “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” of weight loss. I mention this because back in November of 2011 I weighed over 533 pounds. In a little over a year, I have lost 322 pounds. I now weigh 210. My goal weight is 200 pounds, so I am only 10 pounds away from reaching it. But it took a great deal of hard work to get to where I am now.”

Book Excerpts

Excerpted from “Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health” by Marion Nestle (University of California Press, Revised and Expanded, 10th Anniversary Edition, 2013):

Excerpted from “Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics” by Marion Nestle (University of California Press, 2012):

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