Get the Facts — Obesity & Your
You Are Not Alone
If you are overweight, you are not alone. The
facts are startling and disturbing:
Why is it called "Morbid"?
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.
"Clinically severe obesity"
is a description of the same condition and can be used interchangeably.
- Today, more than 65% of adults are overweight or obese. 1
- 32% of children are overweight.1
- 4.8% of adults are morbidly obese (about 19 million).1
- Total medical cost for obesity in 2003 was $75 billion.2
- 325,000 obesity-related deaths occur annually.3
Morbid obesity is a serious disease and must
be treated as such, according to the National Institutes of Health Consensus
Report. It is also a chronic disease, meaning that it builds slowly over an extended period of time.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH),
an increase in 20% or more above your ideal body weight is the point at which excess
weight becomes a health risk.
Obesity becomes "morbid" when
it reaches the point of significantly increasing the risk of one or more obesity-related
health conditions or
to determine whether or not you will be become obese, such as:
Click below to learn more about each factor.
- eating disorders
- drugs (like steroids)
- medical conditions (like hypothyroidism).
Genetic Factors (click)
scientific studies have established that our genes play an important
role in our tendency to gain excess weight. A number of genes are probably directly
related to weight.
Some genes determine eye color or height, other
genes affect our appetite, our ability to feel full or satisfied, our metabolism,
our fat-storing ability, and even our natural activity levels.
The body weight of adopted children shows
no correlation with the body weight of their adoptive parents, who feed them
and teach them how to eat. Their weight does have an 80 percent correlation with
their genetic parents, whom they have never met.
Identical twins, with the same genes, show
a much higher similarity of body weights than do fraternal twins, who have different
genes. Certain groups of people, such as the Pima Indian tribe in Arizona, have
a very high incidence of severe obesity. They also have significantly higher
rates of diabetes and heart disease than other ethnic groups.
Environmental Factors (click)
and genetic factors are obviously closely intertwined. If you have a
genetic predisposition toward obesity, then the modern American lifestyle and
environment may make controlling weight more difficult.
Fast food, long days sitting at a desk, and
suburban neighborhoods that require cars all magnify hereditary factors such
as metabolism and efficient fat storage.
For those suffering from morbid obesity, anything
less than a total change in environment usually results in failure to reach and
maintain a healthy body weight.
to think of weight gain or loss as only a function of calories ingested
and then burned. Take in more calories than you burn, gain weight; burn more
calories than you ingest, lose weight. But now we know the equation isn't that
Obesity researchers now talk about a
theory called the "set point," a sort of thermostat in the brain that
makes people resistant to either weight gain or loss. If you try to override
the set point by drastically cutting your calorie intake, your brain responds
by lowering metabolism and slowing activity. You then gain back any weight you
Medical Conditions (click)
loss surgery is not a cure for medical conditions, such as hypo- thyroidism,
or eating disorders that can also cause weight gain.
That's why it's important that you
work with your doctor to make sure you do not have a condition that should be
treated with medication and counseling.
serious diseases (also known as co-morbidities). These result in significant physical
disability or even death.
Causes of Obesity
The reasons for obesity are multiple and complex. Despite conventional wisdom,
it is not simply a result of overeating.
Research has shown that in many cases a significant, underlying cause of morbid
obesity is genetic.
Studies have demonstrated that once the problem is established, efforts such
as dieting and exercise programs have a limited ability to provide effective long-term
Obesity & Life Expectancy
Research has shown that your BMI clearly affects your life expectancy, as can
be seen in the chart below.
- Younger and middle aged men and women have an increasing risk of dying prematurely
as their BMI increases from ideal (19-25) to over weight (25-30) to moderately
obese (30 to 40) and beyond.21
- Teens entering adulthood with BMI over 40 die 8-13 years earlier than general
Research shows that traditional treatment options, such as diet, exercise, and
behavior modification, are relatively ineffective in helping patients with
morbid obesity achieve and maintain weight loss over the long term.
Weight loss surgery is typically more effective, providing the longest period
of sustained weight loss in patients for whom all other options failed.
Click below for a comparison of the success rates of the three main types of
treatment for morbid obesity: