Friday, 2 March 2012

Morbid obesity definition, causes, health risks and treatment

Morbid obesity is a severe form of obesity that can cause serious health related complications. Morbidly obese people are at greater risk of developing illnesses including diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, heart disease, and cancer.

What is morbid obesity?

There are several criteria to define morbid obesity. The commonly used definition used Body Mass Index (BMI) as the measuring parameter.

If your BMI is more than 40, you are considered to be morbidly obese. It is also known as grade 3 obesity. The healthy range of BMI is 18.5 - 25.

For example; if your weight is 140kg and height is 180cm

Your BMI will be 140 divided by 1.8 x 1.8
That equals to 43.
So you are considered to be morbidly obese.
If your BMI is 50 or more, you have super morbid obesity.
You can use a BMI calculator to check your BMI.

This definition is not used in children. Morbid obesity in children is defined as a BMI of more than 95th centile adjusted for age and sex.


In most instances, morbid obesity is not simply a result of eating too much food. Researchers found many other causes for extreme weight gain.
Genetic factors play an important role excess weight gain. Some people have slow rate of metabolism than others. That means, they burn calories more slowly.

Some medical conditions such as Cushing's syndrome, hypothyroidism, and some eating disorders can cause extreme weight gain.

Health risks

This is a serious health condition that can cause serious consequences such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart attack. It can interfere with the basic functions such as breathing, walking, and sleeping.

People with extremely high body weight are at increased risk of following conditions

  • Hypertension
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Hypoventilation syndrome
  • Angina and heart attack
  • Acid reflux (gastro oesophageal reflux disease)
  • Breast, bowel and pancreatic cancers
  • Congestive heart failure


Morbidly obese people need active weight reduction. Dieting and exercise alone are not enough to lose weight in this category of individuals. In addition, they need medical or surgical treatment such as gastric banding or gastric bypass surgery.

A popular example of weight reduction surgery done in morbidly obese people is Lap-Band. This operation is done with the help of laparoscope.

Your doctor may prescribe weight loss pills to reduce your body weight before surgery. In addition to that, you may try very low calorie diet such as Optifast. The very low calorie diet program should be supervised by a dietitian or nutritionist.

Related posts:

What is abdominal obesity?