What Is Morbid Obesity?

Obesity becomes "morbid" when it reaches the point of significantly increasing the risk of one or more obesity-related health conditions or serious diseases (also known as co-morbidities) that result either in significant physical disability or even death.

As you read about morbid obesity, you may also see the term "clinically severe obesity" used. These describe the same condition and can be used interchangeably.

Morbid obesity is typically defined as being 100 pounds or more over ideal body weight or having a Body Mass Index of 40 or higher. According to the National Institutes of Health Consensus Report, morbid obesity is a serious disease and must be treated as such. It is a chronic disease, meaning that its symptoms build slowly over an extended period of time.

Health Threat of Morbid Obesity

Morbid obesity brings with it an increased risk of a shorter life expectancy. For people whose weight exceeds twice their ideal body weight—that's about 2-6% of the U.S. population—the risk of an early death is doubled compared to non-obese individuals. The risk of death from diabetes or a heart attack is five to seven times greater.

Aside from the risks of obesity-related health conditions, weight gain alone can lead to a condition known as "end-stage" obesity where, for the most part, no treatment options are available.

Yet an early death is not the only potential consequence of morbid obesity. Social, psychological and economic effects, however unfair, are real and can be especially devastating.

Am I Morbidly Obese?

Answering this question may give you the courage you need to take the first step. Below are tools you can use to find out if you are morbidly obese and are potentially a candidate for weight loss surgery.

There are several medically accepted criteria for defining morbid obesity.You are likely to be morbidly obese if you:

  • Are more than 100 pounds over your ideal body weight, or
  • Have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 40, or
  • Have a BMI of over 35 and are experiencing severe negative health effects, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, related to being severely overweight, or
  • Cannot achieve a healthy body weight for a sustained period of time, even through medically supervised dieting.

If you answered "yes" to any of these items, you may be a candidate for bariatric surgery. Give us a call to find out how Wyoming Valley Bariatric Center can help you: (570) 821-1100.