The Truth About Obesity

The Health Threat of Obesity

Obesity can bring an increased risk for a shorter life expectancy. For individuals whose weight exceeds twice their ideal body weight, the risk of an early death is doubled compared to non-obese individuals. What is even more alarming is that the risk of death from diabetes or heart attack is five to seven times greater.

Even beyond the issue of obesity-related health conditions, weight gain alone can lead to a condition known as "end-stage" obesity where, for the most part, no treatment options are available. Yet an early death is not the only potential consequence, social, psychological and economic effects of morbid obesity, however unfair, are real and can be equally as devastating.

What Is Morbid Obesity?

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 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) that result either in significant physical disability or even death. As you read about morbid obesity you may also see the term "clinically severe obesity" used. Both are descriptions of the same condition and can be used interchangeably. Morbid obesity is typically defined as being 100 lbs. or more over ideal body weight or having a Body Mass Index of 40 or higher.

Obesity is a serious disease and chronic disease, where the symptoms build slowly over an extended period of time.

What Causes Obesity?

The reasons for obesity are multiple and complex. Despite conventional wisdom, it is not simply a result of overeating. Research has shown that, in many cases, a significant underlying cause of morbid obesity is genetic. Studies have demonstrated that once the problem is established, efforts such as dieting and exercise program have a limited ability to provide effective long-term relief.

While a healthy diet as well as exercise can result in weight loss, the real challenge is maintaining this loss. A continuous cycle of weight loss and gain (yo-yo dieting) can cause serious health risks. If you have tried diet and exercise, but remain seriously obese, weight loss (bariatric) surgery may be the best way to regain your health.

Am I Morbidly Obese?

Please keep in mind that the NIH uses terms as "morbidly obese" as a classification of obesity. At the NJBMI, we see our patients as individuals at an "unhealthy weight."

Below are tools you can use to determine if you are a potential candidate for weight loss surgery.

There are several medically accepted criteria for defining morbid obesity:

  • more than 100 lbs. over your ideal body weight, or
  • have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 40, or
  • have a BMI of over 35 and are experiencing severe negative health effects, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, related to being severely overweight
  • unable to achieve a healthy body weight for a sustained period of time, even through medically supervised dieting

Enter your height and weight to calculate your BMI. The results of typical BMI calculations are approximate values, and are intended to be used only as a rough guide.

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