James Packer interview: Former Crown owner opens up on weight loss struggles, family life and world politics

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David Johns
The Nightly
James Packer (photographed in 2015) has spoken candidly about his struggles with weight, his love for his family and his passion for Australia.
James Packer (photographed in 2015) has spoken candidly about his struggles with weight, his love for his family and his passion for Australia. Credit: TED ALJIBE/AFP

High-profile businessman and former media mogul James Packer has spoken candidly about his struggles with weight loss, the state of world politics and his love for Australia in a wide-ranging interview.

Speaking with The Daily Telegraph from his Los Angeles home, Packer confessed “not everything is perfect”, saying his weight problems had returned again.

“I did a good job of losing a lot of weight last year. It’s been documented before that I’ve had mental health issues,” he said.

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Packer was diagnosed as being bipolar around 2016, and says the different medications he was prescribed were bad for his weight.

He said when he sold Crown in 2022, he was making an effort to get off the medications and lose weight at the same time.

“To cut a long story short I got my weight down to about 115kg at the end of July 2022, but then ballooned to 170kg by the time I came back to Sydney in late March of 2023,” he said.

“In the middle of last year I regrouped and stopped drinking and smoking and changed my medication, and my weight got down to 110kg by the end of January.”

But Packer admits that he has put a lot of that weight back on because he “loves sugar so much”.

“I’m embarrassed to say that while I had stopped eating sugar for some time, I started again in February and I’ve put a lot of the weight I lost, back on. This time it’s not the medication — I’m off nearly all of those — I just need to be more disciplined,” he said.

“So I am going to address my weight again, but, to be honest, weight for me is a bit of a constant struggle.”

Packer spoke openly about his family, saying he was loving watching his children grow up.
Packer spoke openly about his family, saying he was loving watching his children grow up. Credit: Don Lindsay

Packer says mentally, he is healthy and family is a big focus for him at the moment.

His children — Indigo, Emmannuelle and Jackson — with his ex-wife Erica Packer recently moved to London, and he spoke about them glowingly, telling The Daily Telegraph they grow “taller, smarter, funnier and more human every day”.

Packer also weighed in on the elections in the UK and US, saying the one constant in world politics right now is discontent.

“France is moving to the right. The UK to the left. The electorate is unhappy,” he said.

“Whether it’s inflation, interest rates, immigration, people are dissatisfied, and they are voting incumbents out.”

Packer, who says he is a Zionist but not Jewish says the Middle East is one of “the most difficult issues in the world”.

“It is heartbreaking to see all the death and destruction. I am worried about anti-Semitism being on the rise,” he said.

And he talked about his pride in his home country, saying China’s rise has been “unambiguously good” for Australian living standards.

“In 2000, Australia’s total exports to China were around $5b. Last year we exported close to $200b worth of goods and services to China,” he said.

Late media mogul Kerry Packer left, and son James Packer in 2004.
Late media mogul Kerry Packer left, and son James Packer in 2004. Credit: ROB GRIFFITH/AP

“We run a massive trade surplus with China and an enormous trade deficit with America, our security partner. This is a most unusual circumstance.”

Packer said the most critical issue economically was reducing wealth disparity between “the haves and the have-nots”.

And he said Australia’s world-class superannuation system was “the best economic reform of the past 50 years”.

“We have so much to be proud of in Australia.”

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