Obesity and Related Health Conditions

According to the American Public Health Association (APHA), overweight and obesity are associated with 300,000 deaths each year in the United States. Today 97 million Americans, more than one-third of the adult population, are overweight or obese.  To be considered obese, an adult must have a BMI of 30 or greater.  An estimated 5 to 10 million of those are considered morbidly obese. 

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 co-morbidities) that result either in 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.

 People who suffer from overweight and obesity are at increased risk for a number of health-related problems, including:

Perceptions of obesity have changed as the disease escalates in our country. 

In the past:

  • obesity was seen as a weakness or failure of the individual
  • diet and exercise were prescribed treatments
  • weight loss surgery was viewed as extreme and dangerous

In the present:

  • obesity is considered a disease with serious health risks
  • diet and exercise remain the cornerstone of obesity treatment
  • surgery is accepted as proven treatment for obesity
  • surgical treatment is appropriate for qualified patients