Is Morbid Obesity?
Morbid obesity is a condition in which you have a body mass
index (BMI) higher than 35. BMI is used to estimate body fat and can help determine
if you are at a healthy body weight for your size. BMI is not a perfect
measurement but it does help give a general idea of ideal weight ranges for
Causes Morbid Obesity?
When you eat, your body uses the calories you consume to run
your body. Even at rest, the body needs calories to pump your heart or digest
food. If those calories are not used, the body stores them as fat. Your body
will build up fat stores if you continue to eat more calories than your body
can use during daily activities and exercise. Obesity and morbid obesity are
the result of too much fat being stored in your body.
Certain medications, such as antidepressants, can cause
weight gain. Medical conditions such as hypothyroidism can also lead to
weight gain, but can usually be managed so that they do not lead to obesity.
Is at Risk for Morbid Obesity?
Anyone can gain weight and become obese if they eat more
calories than their bodies can use.
have shown that genetic
factors can play a role in how your body stores energy. More research is
being done to further explore the relationship between genes and weight.
Many behavioral factors play a role in obesity as well,
including your eating habits and daily activity level. Many people develop
their eating habits as children and have trouble refining them to maintain
proper body weight as they age. As an adult, you may be inactive at your job
and have less time for exercise, meal planning, and physical activity.
Other factors, such as stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep,
can lead to weight gain. People who quit smoking often experience temporary
weight gain. Women may also have trouble losing the weight they gain during
pregnancy, or may gain additional weight during menopause. These factors do not
necessarily lead to morbid obesity but can certainly contribute to its onset.
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask you about the
history of your weight and your weight-loss efforts. They will ask you about
your eating and exercise habits, and your medical history.
BMI is calculated when your weight in kilograms is divided
by your height in meters squared. You can calculate your BMI by using a calculator
provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here are BMI ranges
and their corresponding categories of obesity:
- underweight: under 18.5 percent
- normal: 18.5 to 24.9 percent
- overweight: 25.0 to 29.9
- obese (class 1): 30.0 and 34.9
- morbid obesity (class 2): 35-39.9
Using BMI as a diagnosis tool for obesity has limitations.
Your BMI is only an estimate of your body fat. For example, athletes may have a
high weight because of their higher muscle mass. They could fall into the obese
or morbidly obese BMI range, but actually have a small amount of body fat.
Because of this, your doctor might use other tests to get an exact reading of
your body fat percentage.
Calculating Body Fat Percentage
A skinfold test may also be done to check your body fat
percentage. In this test, a doctor measures the thickness of a fold of skin
from the arm, abdomen, or thigh with a caliper.
Another way to test body fat percentage includes bioelectrical impedance,
which is often done using a special type of scale. Finally, body fat can be
more accurately measured using special equipment to calculate water or air
Your doctor may order additional blood tests to look for
hormonal or other medical problems that could be causing your weight gain.
of Morbid Obesity
Obesity is a health concern.
Without proper treatment, obesity can lead to other serious health
problems, such as:
- heart disease and blood lipid abnormalities
- type 2 diabetes
- sleep apnea (when you periodically stop
breathing during sleep)
- reproductive problems
- certain cancers
- obesity hypoventilation syndrome
- metabolic syndrome
There are several different treatment options for morbid
Diet and Exercise
There is no data on the most effective way to induce long-term
weight loss, but a healthy diet and regular exercise are the keys to overall
It is also important to learn stress management tools that
can be used in place of overeating or snacking during stressful times.
You should work with your doctor and a dietitian to set
realistic goals that will help you lose weight slowly through diet and
exercise. It may be helpful to find support from friends, family, or your
community in order to make lifestyle changes that will lead to long-term weight
Weight Loss Drugs
In some cases weight loss drugs may be prescribed. These
medications may cause weight loss, but most
people regain the weight once they stop taking the medication. There are many
herbal and over-the-counter supplements that claim to help you lose weight, but
many of these claims have not been verified.
Surgery may also be an option to treat obesity if you have
tried other methods for losing weight but have not been successful in
maintaining long-term weight loss. It can often help reduce the risk of other
diseases (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, and sleep apnea) that are associated
with severe obesity.
Surgery may cause complications, and you should talk with
your doctor to determine if this is an option for you. There are two common
types of weight-loss surgeries:
In this procedure, the surgeon will place a band around the
upper part of your stomach. This limits the amount of food you can eat at one
time by making you feel full after eating small amounts of food.
Gastric Bypass Surgery
This surgery will change how the food you eat travels
through your digestive tract by bypassing a portion of your stomach and small
bowel. It will make you feel full when you’ve eaten less food.
Obesity and morbid obesity are serious and potentially
life-threatening conditions. A healthy lifestyle that includes a healthy diet
and regular exercise are important for preventing obesity.
Diet and Exercise
People who are morbidly obese should avoid “fad” diets and focus
instead on changing eating behaviors. Recommendations include:
- adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet
- eating smaller meals
- count calories
- eating mindfully
- limiting saturated fats, trans fats, and refined
Physical activity is good for overall health and is
especially important if you’re trying to lose weight. To begin losing weight,
you will need to do moderate to vigorous exercise for more than three hours per
week. Vigorous activity raises your heart rate significantly. Be sure to check
with your doctor before you begin any vigorous exercise programs. Examples of
beneficial physical activity include:
- running or jogging
- jumping rope
- brisk walking
Moderate exercise can also include everyday activities like
shoveling snow or yard work.