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Porirua mayor wins weight-loss battle

Published: 8:48PM Tuesday April 10, 2012 Source: Fairfax

  • Porirua mayor Nick Leggett (Source: Fairfax)
    Porirua mayor Nick Leggett - Source: Fairfax

It's been more than a year since a shrinking Nick Leggett went under the knife in a bid to downsize.

The Porirua mayor has lost 17 kilograms, three clothes sizes and the stigma of being the chubby guy.

"There hasn't been a moment when I regretted having the operation and I've continued to improve my health, mainly through fitness but also through diet. It's been a really great tool to have."

However, the 32-year-old said the $18,000 gastric band operation was not a magic cure.

He has had to make some drastic changes to his lifestyle, such as eating less, exercising more and cutting out fizzy drinks, beer and most fatty food, though he still has a weak spot for fish and chips.

He's also failed to cull his chocolate cravings. "My consumption of Whittaker's chocolate has gone up massively ... they're a Porirua firm, so I'm happy to keep them in business."

The gastric band was inserted at the top of his stomach. It affects the nerves that tell the brain you are hungry and prevents you from overeating.

Before his 30-minute operation in February last year at a private clinic, Mr Leggett was sliding towards an early grave. Years of overeating and gorging on takeaways had taken its toll - he was obese and at risk of diabetes.

Now, he's the healthiest he's been for years.

"I've got a lot more energy to do things. Being physically fit, my resilience is a lot better with things like late nights and long days.

"I don't sleep in now. Every Saturday I'm in the pool at 8am then I'll do some form of exercise during the day."

He's also noticed a change in his personality as a result of the weight melting off his more than 100kg frame.

"I'm slightly more strident perhaps than I once was, slightly less inclined to back down."

The country's youngest mayor by a decade has been open about his battle with the bulge.

"A lot of people ask me about the operation and I really encourage that because there are a lot of people out there with weight problems ... I'm always up to talk to people about that because I know how difficult it is to confront it at times."

He has encouraged people to get fit through his mayoral walk series during summer and ran the 7-kilometre Round the Bays race in just over 32 minutes.

"I feel like I'm a worthy face of the city now."

UNDER THE KNIFE

In 2009-10, 263 people had publicly funded bariatric surgery in New Zealand, according to the Health Ministry. The Government announced an $8 million funding increase in the same year to finance an extra 300 operations over four years. Last year 350 people had surgery and this year 414 are expected to have surgery.

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