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What is 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. Results from the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), using measured heights and weights, indicate that an estimated 68 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight (34 percent) or obese (33.8 percent).
An estimated 15 million are considered morbidly obese.
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 co-morbidities) that result either in significant physical disability or even death. Morbid obesity is typically defined as being 100 pounds or more over ideal body weight for men or approximately 80 pounds over ideal body weight for women 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 morbid obesity symptoms build slowly over an extended period of time.
>Check your BMI
Causes of Morbid Obesity
The causes of obesity are multiple and complex. Despite conventional wisdom, it is not simply a result of overeating. Research has shown that in many cases a significant, underlying cause of morbid obesity is genetic. Studies have demonstrated that once the problem is established, efforts such as dieting and exercise programs have a limited ability to provide effective long-term relief.
Science continues to search for answers. But until morbid obesity is better understood, the control of excess weight is something patients must work at for their entire lives. That is why it is very important to understand that all current medical interventions, including weight loss surgery, should not be considered medical cures. Rather they are attempts to reduce the effects of excessive weight and alleviate the serious physical, emotional and social consequences of morbid obesity.
Am I Morbidly Obese?
Answering this question may give you the courage you need to take the first step. This website contains tools, including a BMI calculator, you can use to determine if you are morbidly obese and potentially a candidate for weight loss surgery.
How does being overweight or obese affect a person’s health?
When people are or overweight or obese, they are more likely to develop health problems such as the following:
The more overweight a person is, the more likely that person is to have health problems. Among people who are overweight and obese, weight loss can help reduce the chances of developing these health problems.
Most non-surgical weight loss programs are based on some combination of diet/behavior modification and regular exercise. Unfortunately, even the most effective interventions have proven to be effective for only a small percentage of patients. It is estimated that less than 5% of individuals who participate in non-surgical weight loss programs will lose a significant amount of weight and maintain that loss for a long period of time.
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 95% of all people in these programs regain their weight within one year. Sustained weight loss for patients who are morbidly obese is even harder to achieve. Serious health risks have been identified for people who move from diet to diet, subjecting their bodies to a severe and continuing cycle of weight loss and gain known as “yo-yo dieting.”
The fact remains that morbid obesity is a complex, multifactorial chronic disease. For many patients, the risk of death from not having the surgery is greater than the risks from the possible complications of having the procedure.
That is the key reason that in 2009, approximately 220,000 weight loss surgical procedures were performed in the United States. Patients who have had the procedure report improvements in their quality of life, social interactions, psychological well-being, employment opportunities, and economic condition.
Criteria for Surgery
The minimum insurance qualification for consideration as a candidate for the procedure is a Body Mass Index of 40 or greater or a BMI of 35 or higher if the patient is suffering from serious negative health effects, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea. The average female in the U.S. is 5 feet, 4 inches tall; at a weight of 234 pounds, she will have a BMI of 40 and meet criteria for surgery. In many cases, insurance companies require proof that attempts at non-surgical dietary weight loss have been ineffective before surgery will be approved. More important, however, is the commitment on the part of the patient to the required long-term follow-up care. Patients are required to demonstrate serious motivation and a clear understanding of the extensive dietary, exercise, behavioral and medical guidelines that must be followed for the remainder of their lives after having weight loss surgery. >Check your BMI
BARIATRIC SURGERY: RISKS VS. BENEFITS
• The federal government (AHRQ) and studies report significant improvements in safety
• Risk of death from bariatric surgery is about 0.1%
• Morbidly obese individuals who have bariatric surgery increase their longevity, as compared to those who do not have surgery
• Patients can improve life expectancy by 89%
• Patients can reduce their risk of dying by 30% – 40%
• Morbidly obese patients who have surgery dramatically reduce their risk of dying from an obesity-related disease, as compared to those who do not have surgery
• Risk of death from diabetes decreases 92%, from cancer decreases 60% and from coronary artery disease decreases 56%