results from the excessive accumulation of fat that exceeds
the body's skeletal and physical standards. According to the
National Institutes of Health (NIH), an increase in 20 percent
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 those are considered
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 comorbidities)
that result in either 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. According to the National
Institutes of Health Consensus Report, morbid obesity is a
serious disease and must be treated as such. It is a chronic
disease, meaning that its symptoms build slowly over an extended
period of time. Obesity treatment is available, and weight
loss surgery may be a good option for you. In general, insurance
companies require a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher.
A BMI of 35+ may be allowed depending on the number and severity
of the patient's related comorbidities.
health conditions are health conditions that, whether alone
or in combination, can significantly reduce your life expectancy.
A partial list of some of the more common conditions follows.
Your doctor can provide you with a more detailed and complete
Type 2 Diabetes. 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.
High blood pressure/Heart disease. Excess body
weight strains the ability of the heart to function properly.
The resulting hypertension (high blood pressure) can result
in strokes, as well as inflict significant heart and kidney
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 reflux/Heartburn. Acid
belongs in the stomach and seldom causes any problem when
it stays there. 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. For more information
on Heartburn, its causes and possible cures, visit www.heartburnhelp.com.
Depression. Seriously overweight persons
face constant challenges to their emotions: repeated failure
with dieting, disapproval from family and friends, sneers
and remarks from strangers. They often experience discrimination
at work, cannot fit comfortably in theatre seats, or ride
in a bus or plane.
Infertility. 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 of urine with coughing, sneezing, or laughing.
Menstrual irregularities. Morbidly obese
individuals often experience disruptions of the menstrual
cycle, including interruption of the menstrual cycle, abnormal
menstrual flow and increased pain associated with the menstrual