Everything You Should Know About Morbid Obesity

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Morbid obesity is common in the United States, affecting more than 7% of women and at least 5% of men. The long term failure rate of many nonsurgical treatments for morbid obesity approaches 100%.

Much of the content on our website attempts to answer common questions about surgery for morbid obesity.

Morbid Obesity Defined

Morbid obesity is defined as:

  • Weight greater than 100 pounds over “ideal body weight” as determined by standard life insurance tables, or a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 40 kg/m2.
  • Absence of obesity-related glandular problems (endocrine disorders) caused by obesity.
  • Medical problems associated with severe obesity (known as comorbidities). In patients with medical conditions caused by severe obesity, the weight limits for surgery have been lowered to a BMI of 35 or greater.

Am I obese?

Significant Health Risks of Morbid Obesity

Morbid obesity poses a significant risk to life and may cause such life-threatening conditions as:

  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • gallbladder disease
  • gynecologic and other cancers
  • high blood lipids
  • arthritis
  • sleep apnea syndrome
  • premature death

Weight Loss Surgery to Treat Morbid Obesity

Due to the high incidence of failure of non-operative methods of weight control in the morbidly obese, the many types of weight loss surgery are considered more effective methods of treatment for severely obese individuals.

In 1991, a National Institutes of Health consensus development panel fully endorsed gastric restrictive surgery as appropriate treatment for patients with medically severe obesity. Additionally, the risks of NOT having surgery far outweigh those of the surgery itself.

It’s important to remember that weight loss surgery is a process. Surgery is only one piece of the puzzle. Aftercare, life change, social support — these are other important steps to ensure long term, sustained weight loss.