Understanding Obesity

What is Obesity?

Obesity 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 morbidly obese.

What is Morbid Obesity?

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. 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.

Health Risks of Obesity

Morbid obesity brings with it an increased risk for a shorter life expectancy. For individuals whose weight exceeds twice their ideal body weight (1 in 3 people are either overweight or obese, according to the CDC), the risk of an early death is doubled compared to non-obese individuals. The risk of death from diabetes or heart attack is five to seven times greater. 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 especially devastating.

Obesity-related health conditions, whether alone or in combination, can significantly reduce your life expectancy. Some life threatening health conditions associated with obesity include diabetes, hypertension, depression, coronary artery disease, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, high cholesterol, polycystic ovary disease, etc. Your doctor can provide you with a more detailed and complete list.

What obesity does to your body

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