New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie acknowledged Tuesday he underwent laparoscopic surgery in February after a generation-long struggle with obesity — though he denied political motivation for the operation.

The news deepened speculation among political analysts about Christie's potential run for the U.S. presidency in 2016 as the governor campaigns for re-election this fall, with local television advertisements touting his record of balancing state budgets without raising taxes. Christie's weight problem became an issue in the 2009 gubernatorial race, when democratic incumbent Jon Corzine ran unflattering video advertisements of his opponent.

"I've struggled with this issue for 20 years," Christie said. "For me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them."

Christie rejected claims that the surgery was motivated by political aspirations. "It's so much more important than that," he said.

However, the New York Post cited "top political donors" who saw the timing of the surgery as a clear sign of Christie's political intentions. "This means he's running for president," the source told the Post. "He's showing people he can get his weight in control. It was the one thing holding him back."

With subterfuge worthy of any Hollywood star seeking plastic surgery, Christie booked the head of New York University's Medical Center's weight management program, Dr. George Fielding, the same doctor who performed the surgery on New York Jet's coach Rex Ryan, with whom Christie consulted. The governor first went to the medical center for visits but underwent the surgery — a minimally invasive procedure that took 40 minutes — at his own house in Mendham, N.J. on Feb. 16.

Christie booked the surgeon, a bariatric and laparoscopic specialist, under an assumed name, electing to undergo the less invasive surgery as opposed to a laparotomy, with smaller incisions - usually 0.5-1.5 centimeters - made in his abdominal cavity with the use of laparoscope, which is a telescopic video camera also used in chest cavity operations. Christie said in 2006 that a more invasive gastric bypass was "too risky."

While the governor declined to disclose information about his weight, the Post reported he dropped some 40 pounds from his frame, which is believed to have been between 300 and 350 pounds.

Christie said the operation has helped to curb his appetite. "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 said.

As he continues to drop weight, physicians will further tighten the "lap-band" that was placed around his stomach, which effectively reduces the patient's capacity for eating while more quickly bringing satiety of appetite.

"I know it sounds crazy to say that running for president is minor, but in the grand scheme of things, it was looking at Mary Pat and the kids and going, 'I have to do this for them, even if I don't give a crap about myself,'" he said.

However, Brian Walsh, a republican operative who recently worked as the communications director for the National Senatorial Campaign Committee, told Politco Tuesday that the surgery removed a political barrier for Christie.

"This is a win-win for Governor Christie — on the one hand, health and family concerns take precedence over everything, and on the other, he's also addressing a potential political issue should he seek higher office."

In a state that is heavily democrat, Christie is expected to win re-election on Nov. 5 after raising a record $6.2 million.