What Is Morbid Obesity?

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Do you find yourself asking the question ‘what is morbid obesity’? What are the long-term health impacts of a very high body mass index?


Morbid obesity is a serious medical condition that can lead to health problems such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, sleep apnea and osteoarthritis.

Here at Olde Del Mar Surgical, we’re often asked the question ‘what is morbid obesity?’  We take care in explaining to our patients how morbid obesity is defined, how common it is, and the long-term health effects associated with this condition.


Morbid Obesity Defined


According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), patients can be classified as being ‘morbidly obese’ (also referred to as ‘extreme obesity’ or ‘clinically severe obesity) if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have a body mass index (BMI) at, or above, 40
  • Weigh 100 pounds or more above the their ideal body weight
  • Have a ‘co-morbidity’ (another serious health condition related to their weight) such as high blood pressure and/or type 2 diabetes


How Common is Morbid Obesity?


In the United States, the rates of morbid obesity are rising. One study reports that between 2000 and 2010, “the prevalence of BMI (body mass index) over 40…increased by 70%,” while “the prevalence of BMI over 50 increased even faster”.


As of 2010, an estimated 15.5 million adult Americans, or more than 6.5% of the total adult population, had a body mass index of 40 or greater. That means that on average, 1 out of every 20 adults in the United States are classified as being extremely obese.


Health Effects of Morbid Obesity


Along with the day-to-day functional difficulties associated with being morbidly obese, such as using public transit, finding comfortable clothing, and completing daily living activities, there are a host of health problems and risks, such as:


  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Cardiovascular disease, including stroke
  • Infertility
  • Sleep apnea and asthma
  • Degenerative disk disease (back pain)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Increased rates of sudden, unexplained death
  • Breast, colon, kidney, liver and gallbladder cancers
  • Anxiety and depression


The good news is that most risk factors and health problems associated with being morbidly obese are either significantly reduced, or eliminated altogether if the patient is able to achieve, and maintain, a healthy BMI.


Millions of Americans who live with morbid obesity have tried countless weight loss programs and diets unsuccessfully. Here at Olde Del Mar Surgical, our team of bariatric surgery experts help people understand what is morbid obesity, and what are safe, surgical weight loss intervention options.


To learn more about how we’re helping people who are morbidly obese, contact us today! We’d love to help you along your weight loss journey.



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