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While most think obesity means to be excessively overweight, the definition of obesity is excess adipose or fat tissue. Since it is difficult to measure an individual’s body fat, and easy to measure weight, most refer to obesity as being vastly overweight. While your weight is a reflection of your body fat, there is not an exact correlation. For example, in athletic individuals who are muscular, weight is not representative of body fat.

A more accurate number utilized by clinicians, is body mass index or BMI. Your BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared.

Obesity is a serious disease with symptoms that build slowly over an extended period of time. Severe obesity, sometimes known as “morbid obesity”, is defined as being approximately 100 pounds (45.5 kg) above ideal body weight, or a BMI of 40 or a BMI of 35 with at least one associated health condition (co-morbidilty). This is determined according to the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company height and weight tables. Between 3 and 5% of the United States adult population has severe obesity. This condition is associated with the development of life-threatening complications such as hypertension, diabetes and coronary artery disease, to name a few.

In recent years, morbid obesity has become the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States after smoking, with 400,000 deaths attributable to obesity each year. Seven out of 10 U.S. adults are overweight or obese, and the annual cost to the U.S. healthcare system have recently been estimated at $147 billion, double what it was a decade ago.

The presence of obesity increases the risk of a number of medical conditions, including cancer. A co-morbid condition is a health condition related to a primary disease such as obesity. There are many health conditions related to morbid obesity, but some of the most common are:

  • Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, amputation of the feet or legs, and nerve damage
  • Heart disease, such as hardening of the arteries, heart attack, and angina High blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and vision loss
  • High cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure
  • Obstructive sleep apnea has been associated with high blood pressure Reflux/GERD, which can lead to esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus, and esophageal cancer (adenocarcinoma)
  • Cancer [READ MORE]
  • Depression
  • Osteoarthritis and joint pain, which can lead to loss of mobility
  • Stress urinary incontinence
  • Female reproductive health disorder, which can lead to infertility and sexual dysfunction

The good news is – CHRIAS can help! Our bariatric surgery specialists consider individuals with a BMI of 40 as candidates for weight loss surgery, as well as those with a BMI of 35 and comorbidities from their obesity including hypertension, diabetes, sleep apnea, joint pain, depression, stress incontinence, infertility, altered menses, hypercholesterolemia, frequent skin infections and others.

Keep in mind that other weight loss methods including low calorie diets, medication, behavioral modification and exercise therapy are also available to you. However, the only treatment proven to be effective in long-term management of morbid obesity is surgical intervention.