Shrinking mogul Packer rolls back the years

Not only has James Packer dropped 35 kilograms since secretly undergoing gastric bypass surgery in Los Angeles a year ago, he has also lost about 20 years.

Packer, stepping out of Melbourne's Stokehouse restaurant today, almost looks as he did in the 1990s when he was referred to simply as "Jamie".

His trademark business suits hang off a much smaller frame since he underwent keyhole surgery, which involved an initial incision much smaller than with traditional surgery, making it less invasive.

As with all types of gastric bypass surgery, the casino mogul's procedure resulted in the size of his stomach pouch being drastically reduced with several medical staples and the pouch being reattached to the midsection of his intestines.

As a result, he immediately lost his appetite.

Mr Packer yesterday declined to be interviewed about his weight loss. However, he indicated via a spokesman that since gastric bypass surgery he had adopted a healthier lifestyle, eating better food, avoiding alcohol and working to quit cigarettes.

Dinner guests at his Bondi home noted he was barely able to eat more than a handful of food at a time. At one point his lunch consisted of a box of Kool Mints and cigarettes.

Mr Packer, who turned 45 last month and welcomed his third child, a daughter Emmanuelle, resolved last year that it was time to act against his ballooning girth after being motivated by his wife, Erica, to lose weight.

He had also received a sobering warning from doctors that he was headed down the same road as his late father, Kerry Packer, who died at 68 having endured a very public battle with his weight.

The gastric bypass surgery was the last resort for James Packer, who had not been seen pounding Bondi's pavements for about a decade, having previously shed weight the old-fashioned way: intense exercise sessions and the services of a highly paid personal trainer.

In 2008, he reportedly flew in a nutrition specialist from the US to oversee his diet and bought a $25,000 exercise machine, the Power Plate, which sends powerful vibrations through the body, ostensibly shaking the fat out.

Of late he has increased his attendance at the Hyde Park Club, the exclusive gymnasium adjacent to the Park Street offices the Packer family once owned but are now tenants of.

But not everything has gone smoothly. While he was allowed the occasional smoke inside the gym when he was landlord, his fuming ways are no longer tolerated and he has been spotted sparking up in public on Elizabeth Street.

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