Obesity is a progressive, life-threatening disease of excess fat storage. This costly and genetically related health concern often is accompanied by other medical complications, called
comorbidities, such as high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. In medicine, a patient is diagnosed as obese if his or her weight is greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height.
Patients with a
body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater are considered obese. Today, 78.6 million Americans – more than one-third of the adult population – are overweight, obese or morbidly obese.
Morbid Obesity Defined
Someone is considered morbidly obese when they weigh 100 pounds or more over ideal body weight or have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater.
Causes of Obesity
Obesity is not simply a result of overeating. In many cases, there are significant, underlying causes that may be genetic, environmental, metabolic or psychological in nature.
Your genes play an important role in determining your ability to burn calories and how your body uses and stores fat. Just as some genes determine eye color or height, others affect our appetite, our ability to feel full or satisfied, our metabolism, our fat-storing ability and even our natural activity levels.
Daily habits that have developed over a period of time in response to our culture can play a role in weight management. These include a more sedentary lifestyle caused by depending more on automobiles, television, computers and at-home entertainment. The consumption of high-calorie, high-fat foods chosen for convenience, affordability and busy lifestyles may also be a contributor.
Medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, metabolic issues, Cushing's disease and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can contribute to obesity. Your surgeon will schedule a series of tests to help discover any underlying medical issues that may need to be addressed prior to surgery.
For some, excessive eating is a psychological response to trauma or other emotional issues. There is also a demonstrated link between depression and obesity. For individuals with a diagnosed eating disorder, weight loss surgery is not a cure. Your surgeon will talk to you about the psychology of obesity to make sure weight loss surgery is the right choice for you.