What is Obesity?

Obesity is a serious disease with symptoms that build slowly over an extended period of time.

Defining Morbid Obesity

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines morbid obesity as:

  • Being 100 pounds or more above your ideal body weight
  • Having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or greater
  • Having a BMI of 35 or greater with one or more co-morbid conditions

The disease of morbid obesity interferes with basic physical functions such as breathing or walking. Long-term implications of the disease include shorter life expectancy, serious health consequences in the form of weight-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease and a lower quality of life with fewer economic and social opportunities.

Based on NIH guidelines, 24 million U.S. adults are living with morbid obesity and may qualify for bariatric surgery and it is projected that number will grow to 31 million by 2010.

Co-morbid Conditions

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 feed 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
  • Acid reflux/GERD, which can lead to esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus, and esophageal cancer
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Osteoarthritis and joint pain
  • Stress urinary incontinence
  • Asthma
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Gallstones
  • Osteoarthritis and gout
  • Low back pain
  • Immobility
  • Skin infections
  • Venous/stasis ulcers
  • Intertrigo
  • DVT and thromboembolism
  • Female reproductive health disorder (which can lead to infertility)
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Obstetric complications
  • Mortality rates from many of these conditions are also higher among people with morbid obesity.

Body Mass Index (BMI)