Morbid obesity is a major and growing problem in much of the western world today and we have hopefully not left it too late to start educating people about the problem and turning it around.
We are all familiar with the problem of eating more food than the body needs to fuel its normal level of activity and of putting on weight as the excess calories consumed are stored within the body as fat. But at what point are we considered to be obese rather than simply overweight and what is the difference between obesity and morbid obesity? More to the point, when is an individual classed as being morbidly obese and what is the treatment for this condition?
Various measures of weight have been used over the years but the definition commonly accepted today is that of the Body Mass Index (BMI) which was published by the World Health Organization in 2000.
This is a method used to estimate body fat and is a general indicator of a person’s weight against the generally accepted norm. It is not, however, a perfect system and, in a clinical setting, doctors will take a number of factors into account when deciding whether or not a patient is morbidly obese.
In simple terms BMI is calculated by taking as person’s weight in kilograms and dividing it by the square of that person’s height in meters. The result is then interpreted as follows:
- Less than 18.5 indicates that a person is underweight.
- 18.5 to 24.9 is considered to be normal weight.
- 25.0 to 29.9 is classed as being overweight.
- 30.0 to 39.9 is obese.
- A figure of more than 40 indicates that a person is morbidly obese.
So a man of say 6 ft (1.8 m) and weighting 200 lbs (90.7 kg) would have a BMI of 28 and would clearly be overweight. If his weight rose to 250 lbs (113.4 kg) his BMI would be 35 and he would now be classed as obese. Should he continue to gain weight and reach say 290 lbs (131.5 kg) he would be said to suffer from morbid obesity.
This is all well and good and we can clearly see that our man at 250 lbs or at 290 lbs is very much overweight and can understand that we are going to call him obese, but this still doesn’t explain just what we mean by morbid obesity.
One Morbid Obesity Definition
As weight increases the presence of fat deposits in various parts of the body, together with the sheer weight that the body’s frame is supporting, starts to give rise to a variety of problems.
At first these can be relatively minor but, as more and more fat is laid down within the body, these problems can lead to complications which are literally life threatening. At this point your weight can literally kill you and hence the use of the term morbid obesity.
While one morbidly obese definition is simply that of having a BMI in excess of 35, in reality most medical professionals would agree that you cannot technically be classed as morbidly obese unless your excess weight, in combination with other health conditions (whether directly related to your weight or not), places your life at risk.
There is a long list of serious and life-threatening conditions and disorders which can accompany obesity and these are generally termed comorbidities of obesity. These include:
- Heart problems including coronary-artery disease.
- Gallbladder disease.
- High blood pressure (Hypertension).
- Gallbladder disease.
- Sleep apnea.
It is also at this point that morbid obesity surgery (commonly referred to as bariatric surgery or gastric bypass surgery) kicks in and, although it is often not understood by a large section of the population, the purpose of such surgery is not simply cosmetic but is very much medical and is aimed principally at reducing the risk of developing a range of life threatening conditions associated directly with being significantly overweight.
Investigating The Problems Of Morbid Obesity
Our aim here is to examine the problem of morbid obesity in greater detail and to provide advice for people who suffer from morbid obesity and super morbid obesity though a series of articles looking at various aspects of the problem and also to consider in depth the various ways of treating this problem.
We will examine such things as the causes of obesity (including whether or not there is a genetic connection), the growing problem of morbidly obese children (including the importance for parents to look closely at a child’s food intake and level of exercise), the need for dietary advice, how to find suitable insurance cover and the sad but true fact that deaths from morbid obesity are rising.
Take a look at the drop-down menu at the top of this page for links to other articles about morbid obesity.