Defining Morbid Obesity
Obesity is a serious disease with symptoms that build slowly over an extended period of time. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) define morbid obesity as:
- Being 100 pounds or more above your ideal body weight
- Or, having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or greater
- Or, having a BMI of 35 or greater and one or more co-morbid condition
The disease of morbid obesity interferes with basic physical functions such as breathing or walking. Long-term implications of the disease include shorter life expectancy, serious health consequences in the form of weight-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and a lower quality of life with fewer economic and social opportunities.
Obesity is a serious public health issue in the U.S.
The presence of obesity increases the risk of a number of medical conditions, including cancer. A co-morbid condition is a health condition related to a primary disease such as obesity.
There are many health conditions related to morbid obesity, but some of the most common are:
- Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, amputation of the feet or legs and nerve damage
- Heart disease, such as hardening of the arteries, heart attack and angina
- High blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and vision loss
- High cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney failure
- Obstructive sleep apnea has been associated with high blood pressure
- Acid reflux/GERD, which can lead to esophagitis, Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer (adenocarcinoma)
- Osteoarthritis and joint pain, which can lead to loss of mobility
- Stress urinary incontinence
- Female reproductive health disorder, which can lead to infertility and sexual dysfunction
- An emerging body of literature demonstrating relationships between maternal obesity and structural birth defects, including:
- Increased risk of spina bifida and heart defects
- Decreased risk of gastroschisis
These conditions occur more frequently in people with morbid obesity. Mortality rates from many of these conditions are also higher among people with morbid obesity.