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Morbid Obesity


According to the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH), the term "morbid obesity" is defined as being 50-100 percent above one's ideal body weight, or 100 pounds above one's ideal body weight. A person with a BMI (body mass index) value of 40 or greater would also be considered morbidly obese. An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered merely obese. Unfortunately, obesity is on the rise in the United States and millions of Americans are overweight. Learn about the causes of obesity, it health effects, and how bariatric surgery procedures such as gastric bypass and gastric banding surgery can help obese Americans lose significant amounts of weight.

Obesity in America

Obesity can have varying health effects on men, women, teens, and children. Find out how obesity affects each group.

Obese Children

In the United States, the fastest growing segment of the obese population is our youth. Obesity in children has increased by over 30 percent in the United States over the last 10 years, with a staggering 19 percent of children from 6 to 19 years old now categorized as obese.

  • Health Risks: Obese children face serious health risks. They are at a dramatically higher risk for type 2 diabetes than their peers, and recent studies have shown that inactivity prevents obese children from proper neurological development. They are also more likely to remain obese for the rest of their life, leading to more serious obesity-related health problems.
  • Causes: Obese children are often victims of aggressive advertising for junk food and soda products. Poor family nutrition and exercise habits can also be blamed for the recent influx of childhood obesity. Because fat cells are so easy to create but so difficult to lose, obese children typically grow up to be obese men and women.
  • Children and Bariatric Surgery: For obese children, weight loss surgery is not an option. It is therefore essential that sensible diet and exercise routines are established as early as possible, and that the entire family embraces a new, healthier lifestyle.

Obese Teenagers

Obese teenagers often experience health and social problems as a result of their weight. Learn about the health problems associated with teenagers who suffer from obesity, as well as the weight loss options available to teens.

  • Health Problems: Obese teens have a heightened risk of developing serious and life-threatening conditions, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, and other medical issues that are common in obese adults.
  • Social Effects: Recent studies have also shown that depression is especially common among obese teens, who are often subjected to shame and social isolation by their peers. Many obese teens also become depressed because the intense media exposure most teenagers are subjected to causes them to have distorted self-images and unrealistic expectations of their bodies.
  • Restrictive Diets: It is unrealistic to expect obese teens to lose weight with the same diet and exercise routines that work for obese men and women. Restrictive diets are most often ineffective with obese teens, partially because teenagers are rebellious by nature and also because so much of teen culture revolves around fast food, soda, and junk food. In fact, teens on restrictive diets usually gain weight long-term.
  • Lifestyle Changes: A more effective weight loss approach for obese teens, then, is a change of lifestyle. Obese teens need to be educated on how to make wise food choices while still being able to enjoy the typical teen lifestyle. Teenagers who are obese should also be encouraged to engage in and enjoy physical activities. For obese teens and obese children, it is essential that the entire family works together to implement healthy lifestyle changes. Obese teens should meet with an experienced physician to discuss the best approach to weight loss, whether it involves weight loss surgery, or a stricter diet and exercise regimen.
  • Bariatric Surgery: Many surgeons believe that teenagers lack the maturity necessary to make an informed healthcare decision, such as the decision to undergo complicated weight loss surgery. However, in some life-or-death cases, obese teens have successfully undergone bariatric surgery. While some surgeons are now performing weight loss surgery on obese teens, the long-term safety and effectiveness of these procedures is yet to be determined.

Obese Women

In the United States, the prevalence of obese women is almost double that of obese men. Studies have shown that more than one-third of American women are currently obese. In the United States, obese women are more commonly members of a minority and of a lower socio-economic status, and middle-aged women are at the highest risk of becoming obese.

  • Social Effects: Obese women are often the victims of depression. In a society that stresses the beauty of slenderness, women who are obese face substantial social discrimination, even more than obese men. Obese women also face employment and workplace discrimination. In fact, a recent study shows that formerly obese women who underwent weight loss surgery saw a drop in unemployment from 84 to 64 percent.

Obese Men

With millions of obese men living in the United States, it is extremely important that we be aware of the health effects associated with male obesity, as well as the treatment options available for obese adults. Read the sections below to learn more about this topic.

  • Social Effects: Like obese teens and women, obese men are likely to suffer from depression and discrimination from peers.

Bariatric Surgery

Morbidly obese men and women can take control of their weight by undergoing bariatric surgery to help them lose weight and adhere to a new healthy lifestyle. For those patients that qualify for obesity surgery, it has been successful in helping overweight men and women lose massive amounts of weight.

Find a Surgeon

If you are morbidly obese, schedule a consultation with a bariatric surgery practice. A surgeon and staff can determine if you are a candidate for treatment, help you submit a bariatric surgery insurance claim, and provide you with weight loss surgery financing options. Find a local bariatric surgeon today through DocShop's online physician directory.

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