Risks of Morbid Obesity

Morbid obesity is a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more, which is roughly equal to 100 pounds or more over ideal body weight. The disease of morbid obesity interferes with basic physical functions such as breathing or walking. Long-term effects of the disease include a shorter life expectancy, serious health consequences in the form of weight-related health problems (co-morbid conditions) such as Type 2 Diabetes, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, High Blood Pressure, Osteoarthritis, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Infertility, and a lower quality of life.

What Causes Morbid Obesity?

The causes of morbid obesity are multiple and complex. Despite conventional wisdom, it is not simply a result of overeating. Research has shown that, in many cases, significant, underlying causes of morbid obesity are genetic, environmental, and social. Studies have demonstrated that, once the problem is established, efforts such as dieting and exercise programs have limited ability to provide effective long-term relief.

If you are morbidly obese, you should remember three important points:
  • Morbid obesity is not a sign of weakness, laziness or gluttony. It is a serious medical condition with serious medical consequences. Current research suggests that many factors work together to influence your weight. These include your family history, eating habits as a child and adult, hormones and psychological factors.
  • You are not alone. Approximately 66 percent of Americans are considered overweight and about 32 percent are considered obese according to the Centers for Disease Control.
  • There is hope. Resources are available to help you avoid the medical consequences of morbid obesity.
  • Weight loss surgery may resolve or improve some of the serious complications of morbid obesity, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, joint pain and high cholesterol.

What is a co-morbid condition?

If you are morbidly obese, you have a much greater risk of developing a variety of serious co-morbid medical conditions compared to individuals who are not obese. You may also develop health problems at a younger age.

There are two definitions of a co-morbid condition: the presence of one or more disorders or diseases in addition to a primary disorder or disease; or, the presence of a disorder or disease that is caused by or otherwise related to another condition in the same patient. The primary disease of morbid obesity can lead to several co-morbid conditions. These include:
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease/Angina/Congestive heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Sleep apnea
  • Back and joint pain
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Menstrual irregularity and infertility in women
  • Bladder problems
  • Gallstones
  • Kidney stones
  • Liver disease
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Gout
  • Poor heat tolerance
  • Complications and infections after surgery
  • Skin infections
  • Depression and eating disorders
  • Endometrial, breast, prostate, kidney, esophageal and colon cancers
  • Morbid obesity is second only to cigarette smoking as a leading cause of preventable death.

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