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About Obesity

You have made an important decision to change your life. We would like you to have enough information to make an informed and comfortable decision about weight loss surgery. This page contains links to information about obesity, frequently asked questions, and other outside resources to help you gather information. Feel free to read this information and share it with your loved ones.

Obesity as a Disease

Obesity can lead to many different diseases and conditions. A person’s risk for disease increases the higher their BMI (Body Mass Index). Conversely, losing weight reduces the health risks related to obesity. For example, a 10% weight reduction contributes to a 20% reduction in the risk for developing coronary artery disease.

Changing Perceptions of Obesity


  • Obesity seen as a weakness or failure of individual
  • Diet and exercise were prescribed treatments
  • Weight loss surgery viewed as dangerous and extreme


  • Obesity is considered a disease and the cause of many serious health conditions
  • Surgery has gained acceptance as a proven method to treat this disease

Conditions related to obesity:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Disease
  • Osteoarthritis (Joint Problems)
  • Respiratory Problems and Sleep Apnea
  • Heartburn and Reflux
  • Depression
  • Infertility
  • Menstrual Irregularities
  • Urinary Stress
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • High Cholesterol
  • Leg Swelling

Medical Impacts of Obesity

  • Pulmonary Disease: Abnormal function, obstructive sleep apnea, Hypoventilation syndrome Nonalcoholic
  • Fatty Liver Disease: Steatosis, Steatohepatitis, Cirrhosis
  • Gall Bladder Disease
  • Gynecologic Abnormalities: Abnormal menses, infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Skin related issues
  • Gout
  • Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Cataracts
  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Hypertension
  • Severe Pancreatitis
  • Cancer: Breast, uterus, cervix, colon, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, prostate
  • Phlebitis: Venous stasis

Causes of Morbid Obesity

Morbid obesity is defined as a person who weighs 100 pounds over his or her ideal body weight, and has a BMI of 40+ or a BMI of 35 and other severe weight related health issues such as high blood pressure or diabetes. A person can be overweight without being obese. Obesity specifically relates to an abnormally high amount of body fat. There are many causes of morbid obesity in addition to the predictable overeating.

Obesity can be caused by one or more factors:

  • Genetic 25 – 30%
  • Metabolic imbalance (Calories in vs. Calories out)
    Metabolic disorders: If your body's metabolism changes, it could affect your weight. People often try to overcompensate to lose weight by cutting calories drastically. Unfortunately, people often suffer from a "slow-down" of their metabolism in response to the drastic reduction in caloric intake, thus preventing weight loss.
  • Environmental such as culture/ethnicity, work, home and recreational or social habits. We live in a society where people are always "on the go" and are looking for a "quick fix". Sedentary lifestyle coupled with accessibility to processed, convenience foods has contributed to the rise in obesity.
  • Neuroendocrine disorders or hormonal imbalance
  • Eating habits or behaviors. Too little exercise, an unbalanced diet, and excessive snacking can lead to excessive weight gain. For a better idea of appropriate portion sizes, please take a look at this infographic.
  • Psychological factors or disorders. If you are a social or emotional eater, you could gain excessive amounts of weight. People often use food to celebrate happy times or to "drown" their sorrows. Regardless of the reason, happy or sad, overeating for psychological reasons eventually can lead to excessive weight gain.

Body Mass Index

Obesity in the United States has been on the rise over the past 20 years or so. More than half of the states in the country have an obesity rate of over 25% of the state's population. The most accurate way to calculate or quantify obesity is through the Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is calculated by dividing one's actual body weight by their height. Obesity is the result of an excess accumulation of fat beyond what the body naturally requires.

Morbid obesity is defined as having a body weight 100 pounds or greater over your ideal body weight and a BMI of 40+ or a BMI of 35 while experiencing other severe health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Using the Body Mass Index (BMI)

Used to determine if you qualify for surgery. Measures obesity based on weight and height.
Please note: BMI does not distinguish between fat and muscle. A heavily muscled person could have a BMI in excess of 25 without having any increased health risks.
Weight Category BMI (kg/m squared)
Healthy Weight 18.5 – 24.9
Overweight 25 – 29.9
Obese 30 – 34.9
Severely Obese 35 – 39.9
Morbidly Obese >40

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