New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has reportedly lost about 85 pounds since his lap band surgery last year, and he told a group of donors at a private reception he is still losing weight.

Governor Christie in Ocean City (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

Political experts seem to think that could help Christie if he decides to seek the GOP presidential nomination next year, as many suspect he will.

"Many people perceive the issue of weight as not being something that is genetic, but rather that it is a lifestyle choice and perhaps is indicative of a lack of discipline, so if that person just cut calories or went to the gym more regularly they would be in better control of their fitness and their appearance," said Dr. Brigid Harrison, professor of political science at Montclair State University. "I think that kind of self-discipline is what people want in an elected leader."

Harrison said this perception makes weight a very difficult hurdle for politicians to overcome, and that people who are very heavy and in the public eye frequently become the targets of jokes.

If Christie does run for president, Harrison said it might actually help him to be moderately overweight, because many people will think "this guy is facing the same kinds of struggles that I face -- but also, that he is a normal guy, the kind of guy you'd like to sit down and have a beer with."

Christie's physique actually fits him, according to the professor.

"Given the governor's image that he is a kind of no-holds-barred, calls 'em like he sees 'em kind of guy, his physical appearance works with his persona," Harrison said.

She also said that Christie is definitely not the kind of person who's going to blow-dry his hair and wear French-cut suits.

"People feel like they can identify with him," Harrison said. "He has that kind of disarming appeal that is very attractive to a lot of voters. He's not going to be fake and pretend he's someone that he isn't."