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 What is Morbid  Obesity?
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 What is morbid obesity?

Obesity results from the excessive accumulation of fat that exceeds the body's skeletal and physical standards. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an increase in 20 percent or more above your ideal body weight is the point at which excess weight becomes a health risk. Today 97 million Americans, more than one-third of the adult population, are overweight or obese. An estimated 5 to 10 million of those are considered morbidly obese and generally eligible for gastric bypass or the gastric band surgery.

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 comorbidities) that result in either significant physical disability or even death. As you read about morbid obesity you may also see the term "clinically severe obesity" used. Both are descriptions of the same condition and can be used interchangeably. Morbid obesity is typically defined as being 100 lbs. 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. Obesity treatment is available, and weight loss surgery may be a good option for you. In general, insurance companies require a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher. A BMI of 35+ may be allowed depending on the number and severity of the patient's related comorbidities.


Obesity-Related Health Conditions (comorbidities)

Obesity-related health conditions (comorbidities) are health conditions that, whether alone or in combination, can significantly reduce your life expectancy and as a result, weight loss surgery may be deemed a medically necessary treatment. A partial list of some of the more common conditions follows. Your doctor can provide you with a more detailed and complete list:

Serious comorbidities include:

Type 2 Diabetes. Obese individuals develop a resistance to insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. Over time, the resulting high blood sugar can cause serious damage to the body.

Sleep apnea/Respiratory problems. Fat deposits in the tongue and neck can cause intermittent obstruction of the air passage. Because the obstruction is increased when sleeping on your back, you may find yourself waking frequently to reposition yourself. The resulting loss of sleep often results in daytime drowsiness and headaches.

High blood pressure/Heart disease. Excess body weight strains the ability of the heart to function properly. The resulting hypertension (high blood pressure) can result in strokes, as well as inflict significant heart and kidney damage.

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Less serious comorbidities include:

Osteoarthritis of weight-bearing joints. The additional weight placed on joints, particularly knees and hips, results in rapid wear and tear, along with pain caused by inflammation. Similarly, bones and muscles of the back are constantly strained, resulting in disk problems, pain and decreased mobility.

Gastroesophageal reflux/Heartburn. Acid belongs in the stomach and seldom causes any problem when it stays there. When acid escapes into the esophagus through a weak or overloaded valve at the top of the stomach, the result is called gastroesophageal reflux. "Heartburn" and acid indigestion are common symptoms. Approximately 10-15% of patients with even mild sporadic symptoms of heartburn will develop a condition called Barrett's esophagus, which is a pre-malignant change in the lining membrane of the esophagus, a cause of esophageal cancer. For more information on Heartburn, its causes and possible cures, visit www.heartburnhelp.com.

Depression. Seriously overweight persons face constant challenges to their emotions: repeated failure with dieting, disapproval from family and friends, sneers and remarks from strangers. They often experience discrimination at work, cannot fit comfortably in theatre seats, or ride in a bus or plane.

Infertility. The inability or diminished ability to produce offspring.

Urinary stress incontinence. A large, heavy abdomen and relaxation of the pelvic muscles, especially associated with the effects of childbirth, may cause the valve on the urinary bladder to be weakened, leading to leakage of urine with coughing, sneezing, or laughing.

Menstrual irregularities. Morbidly obese individuals often experience disruptions of the menstrual cycle, including interruption of the menstrual cycle, abnormal menstrual flow and increased pain associated with the menstrual cycle.

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Disclaimer: California Thin is an independent service offered by BCCI, Inc. It is meant to be an educational site that offers patients information to help them investigate weight loss surgery. Although the site has been reviewed for accuracy, BCCI, Inc. cannot be held liable for inaccurate data or conclusions drawn from the site. Neither information obtained from this site nor e-mailed correspondence from BCCI, Inc. constitutes a doctor/patient relationship. This web site cannot be considered a doctor's opinion for your situation and is not a substitute for medical evaluation and counsel. Any health care providers listed here are private, independent practitioners.
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