For people who weigh more than what is considered healthy for their height, the labels overweight, obese and morbidly obese are used. People who have morbid obesity are at greatest risk for health problems and certain diseases. The term morbid obesity refers to people who are 50 - 100% or 100 pounds above their ideal body weight. Another way to measure morbid obesity is to use the body mass index (BMI) because, for most people, it correlates with the amount of body fat they have. A BMI value greater than 40 is another way to define morbid obesity.
There are many health related problems that are the result of morbid obesity. These include:
Risk of Premature Death
People who are morbidly obese are twice as likely to die prematurely compared to people whose weight is in the healthy range. This is due, in part, to the relationship between obesity and several serious medical conditions and diseases.
Increased Risk of Heart Disease
Morbid obesity is associated with high levels of triglycerides and decreased HDL cholesterol and high blood pressure. The extra body weight requires that the heart functions harder to supply blood to the body. Chest pain, angina, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and sudden cardiac death are all associated with morbid obesity.
Increased Risk of Stroke
Morbid obesity is considered a secondary risk factor for strokes. Because morbid obesity is frequently associated with a high fat diet, lack of exercise, and raised blood pressure, morbidly obese people frequently develop atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries, which in turn may lead to a blood clot.
Increased Risk of Diabetes
More than 80% of the people who have diabetes are overweight or obese. Insulin resistance is the result of extra fat cells that resist the insulin in the body. The glucose is not taken up by the cells and remains within the body.
Increased Risk of Cancer
Women whose weight remains stable during midlife have a much lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer than do women who have gained a lot of weight. Morbid obesity is an increased risk factor for colon, gall bladder, prostate, kidney, and other cancers.
Increased Risk of Gall Bladder Disease
Gallstones and gall bladder disease increase when the BMI increases. Obese people have a 3 time greater chance to have gallstones then do people of normal weight.
Increased Risk of Arthritis and Osteoarthritis
Morbidly obese people inevitably suffer from arthritis and osteoarthritis, making exercise nearly impossible and even walking difficult. Extra weight means extra pressure on the joints.
Increased Risk of Respiratory Problems
Asthma, bronchitis, and respiratory problems are all highly correlated with morbid obesity. Sleep apnea is frequently caused by excessive fat on the tongue and neck.
Morbid obesity is a health hazard. Some other health conditions related to obesity are:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Back pain
- Urinary stress incontinence
Many morbidly obese people seek medical intervention. Those interventions, designed to lower weight safely, include a very low calorie or liquid diet, exercise, counseling, bariatric surgery, and stomach bypass. Every morbidly obese person is urged to exercise on a regular basis and control caloric intake. Many morbidly obese people are required to lose some weight through diet and exercise before they are even eligible for more drastic measures.