by Kimberly Allen, RN
Like it or not, people that are morbidly obese are inherently unhealthy. That is a medical fact. In fact there was a recent study that found the strongest associations between obesity and death from all causes was found among study subjects who had never smoked and had no history of disease, with the highest rates among the heaviest men and women, i.e. those with a BMI of 40+. So even if you feel healthy, your blood pressure is with in normal limits, and your blood sugar is with in normal limits you still are at grave risk for death due to heart attack or stroke to name a few.
Morbid obesity is considered an extremely grave disease resulting in approximately 400,000 deaths every year. Death by obesity and morbid obesity is second only to tobacco in preventable deaths in the US. There are over one third of the adults in the US that are considered to be obese with approximately 6.5% of those being morbidly obese. It affects both men and women as well as children. In the US, over 18% of children between the ages of 6-19 are considered morbidly obese. And the annual medical costs are in excess of $200 Billion with another $50 Billion spent on diet products in the US. The World Health Organization has formally acknowledged that obesity is a global epidemic affecting over 500 million people worldwide.
So what is morbid obesity? People with a BMI greater than 40 are considered morbidly obese, that being 50-100% above your ideal body weight. Your BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in Kg by your height in meters squared. According to the internationally accepted criteria for BMI the ideal BMI is 20 – 25. Research has shown that as your waist circumference increases your risk for health problems increases. For men with a waist circumference over 102cm, the health risk is extremely high and for women a waist circumference over 88cm produces extremely high risk to their health.
So what cause morbid obesity? The simple answer is that it develops when you consume more calories than you burn. Calories are energy and if you don’t use that energy your body stores it, in the form of fat. However, morbid obesity is considered to be a complex medical disorder that involves many factors. Research indicates that genetics plays a significant role in whether or not you are at risk for becoming morbidly obese. Another significant factor researchers found is that in some people the process where the stomach tells the brain it’s full isn’t functioning properly therefore they are unable to tell when they’re full. This allows them to consume more food than they need. Then if they don’t exercise the body just keeps storing up those extra calories as fat. Most experts also agree that the environment also plays a significant role in the development of morbid obesity. These things would include how you cook and what you cook as well as the type of job you have and whether or not you exercise regularly. Researchers have also looked at psychological factors as well, for example many people eat as a way of coping with certain emotions like sadness and anger. Stress was found to be a significant trigger for eating.
If you are morbidly obese you may feel healthy and be effective at your job. However, you still have a significant risk of developing one or more of 45 health problems that have been found to be directly related to a high BMI including Type II diabetes. People that are morbidly obese are approximately 6 times more prone to hypertension which in turn leads to other problems like heart disease, arterial blockage and stroke as well as kidney disease. People that are morbidly obese not only have an increased risk of heart disease they are 40 times more likely to die suddenly from a heart attack than non-obese people. People that are morbidly obese also suffer from a variety of respiratory problems including sleep apnea and obesity hypoventilation syndrome.
The research and data collected related to obesity and morbid obesity is extensive and the facts are that it is dangerous to your health. You may not want to hear what the Dr says but those are the facts. many people have struggled with their weight for their entire life, but it is a struggle you need to win. There has also been a lot of research that shows many of the health issues your are suffering with while obese will resolve themselves when you lose the weight.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.