What is Morbid Obesity?

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Morbid obesity is a chronic condition. There is no known cure. Obesity is determined by the following factors: genetics, behavior, internally set points of weight, and eating habits. Because of these factors, the morbidly obese person loses the ability to control their weight.

Morbid obesity is a medical term describing people who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40, or of 35 to 40 with significant medical problems caused by or made worse by their weight. BMI of 40 amounts to approximately 100 pounds above ideal weight.

Severely overweight health risks

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • High cholesterol
  • Joint disease
  • Esophageal reflux
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Infertility
  • Reduced life expectancy
Causes of Obesity
The underlying causes of severe obesity are not known. There are many factors that contribute to the development of obesity including genetic, hereditary, environment, metabolism, and behavior.

Numerous scientific studies have established that your genes play an important role in your tendency to gain excess weight. We probably have a number of genes directly related to weight. 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.

Environmental factors also contribute to the cause of morbid obesity. If you have a genetic predisposition toward obesity, then the modern American lifestyle and environment may make controlling weight more difficult. For those suffering from morbid obesity, anything less than a total change in environment usually results in failure to reach and maintain a healthy body weight.

We used to think of weight gain or loss as only a function of calories ingested and then burned. Take in more calories than you burn, gain weight; burn more calories than you ingest, lose weight. But now we know the equation isn't that simple. Obesity researchers now talk about a theory called the "set point," a sort of thermostat in the brain that makes people resistant to either weight gain or loss. If you try to override the set point by drastically cutting your calorie intake, your brain responds by lowering metabolism and slowing activity. You then gain back any weight you lost.