Understanding Obesity & Morbid Obesity
What is Obesity?
We hear quite a bit about obesity, especially recently, but what is it exactly? Obesity is the result of the excessive accumulation of fat that exceeds the body’s skeletal and physical standards. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an increase of 20% or more above your ideal body weight is the point at which excess weight becomes a health risk. Today, 97 million Americans, more than one-third of the adult population, are overweight or obese. An estimated 5 to 10 million of these people are considered morbidly obese.
What is Morbid Obesity?
Morbid obesity is typically defined as being 100 pounds or more above a person’s ideal body weight or having a Body Mass Index (BMI) or 40 or higher. To calculate your BMI, click on the BMI Calculator section on this website. Obesity becomes “morbid” when it reaches the point of significantly increasing the risk of one or more obesity-related health conditions or serious diseases (also known as co-morbidities, including: diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep apnea, acid reflux and depression) that result either in serious physical disability or even death. Morbid obesity may also be referred to by the term “clinically severe obesity.”
Obesity-Related Health Problems / Effects
There are many health-related problems and effects that are closely related to obesity. Whether manifested alone, or in combination, they can significantly reduce your life expectancy.
Fortunately, medical analyses and patient reports following weight loss surgery have shown significant improvement or complete resolution of virtually all obesity-related health conditions.
The following is a partial list of some of the more common conditions. Our bariatric team can provide you with a more detailed and complete list.
Obese individuals develop a resistance to insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. Over time, the resulting high blood sugar can cause serious damage to the body. As obesity rates increase, so does the incidence of type 2 diabetes. As a result, diabetes has become one of the most common diseases afflicting the US population.
High Blood Pressure / Heart Disease
Excess body weight inhibits the ability of the heart to function properly. The resulting hypertension (high blood pressure) can result in strokes, as well as inflict significant and permanent heart and kidney damage.
Osteoarthritis of Weight-Bearing Joints
The additional weight placed on joints, particularly knees and hips, results in rapid wear and tear, along with pain caused by inflammation. Similarly, bones and muscles of the back are constantly strained, resulting in disk problems, pain and decreased mobility.
Sleep Apnea / Respiratory Problems
Fat deposits in the tongue and neck can cause intermittent obstruction of the air passage. Because the obstruction is increased when sleeping on your back, you may find yourself waking frequently to reposition yourself. The resulting loss of sleep often results in daytime drowsiness and headaches.
Gastroesophageal (Acid) Reflux / Heartburn
When acid escapes into the esophagus through a weak or overloaded valve at the top of the stomach, the result is called gastroesophageal reflux. “Heartburn” and acid indigestion are common symptoms. Approximately 10-15% of patients with even mild, sporadic symptoms of heartburn will develop a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which is a pre-malignant change in the lining membrane of the esophagus, a cause of esophageal cancer.
Seriously overweight people face constant challenges to their emotions: repeated failure with dieting, disapproval from family and friends and remarks from strangers. They often experience discrimination at work, cannot fit comfortably in theater seats, or ride in a bus or plane.
Obesity may be a cause of the inability or diminished ability to produce offspring.
Urinary Stress Incontinence
A large, heavy abdomen and relaxation of the pelvic muscles, especially associated with the effects of childbirth, may cause the valve on the urinary bladder to be weakened, leading to leakage or urine with coughing, sneezing, or laughing.
Menstrual Irregularities/Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Morbidly obese women often experience disruptions of the menstrual cycle, including interruption of the menstrual cycle, abnormal menstrual flow and increased pain associated with the menstrual cycle.