Morbid Obesity, Obesity, Quality of Life, and Death

A discussion of obesity and its classifications vs morbid obesity arose between a friend and me on Facebook yesterday. I was bemoaning the very high rates of morbid obesity, pulled a figure out of the air –70%. He was right (and I was WRONG) to question that statistic, it turns out. The CDC reports that in 2009-10 the rate for obesity was 37%. Maybe morbid obesity sticks in my mind because those are the folks I see in the hospital at work, unable to get out of bed unassisted, stranded by their weight.

Medscape was quite informative on the subject. It states the following:

“Although several classifications and definitions for degrees of obesity are accepted, the most widely accepted classifications are those from the World Health Organization (WHO), based on BMI. The WHO designations include the following:

  • Grade 1 overweight (commonly and simply called overweight) – BMI of 25-29.9 kg/m2
  • Grade 2 overweight (commonly called obesity) – BMI of 30-39.9 kg/m2
  • Grade 3 overweight (commonly called severe or morbid obesity) – BMI greater than or equal to 40 kg/m

Overweight and obese individuals are at increased risk for the following health conditions:

  • Cardiometabolic syndrome
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Stroke
  • Gall bladder disease
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)

Apart from total body fat mass, accumulating data suggest that regional fat distribution also substantially affects the incidence of comorbidities associated with obesity.[3] High abdominal fat content (including visceral and, to a lesser extent, subcutaneous abdominal fat) is strongly correlated with worsened metabolic and clinical consequences of obesity. As a result, android obesity, which is predominantly abdominal, is more predictive of adipose-related comorbidities than gynecoid obesity, which has a relatively peripheral (gluteal) distribution.

Waist circumferences greater than 94 cm (37 in) in men and greater than 80 cm (31.5 in) in women and waist-to-hip ratios greater than 0.95 in men and greater than 0.8 in women are the thresholds for significantly increased potential cardiovascular risk. Circumferences of 102 cm (40 in) in men and 88 cm (35 in) in women indicate a markedly increased potential risk requiring urgent therapeutic intervention; these are the thresholds used in the Adult Treatment Panel III (ATPIII) definition of the metabolic syndrome. These thresholds are much lower in European and Asian populations.

Obesity means having a BMI (body mass index, a ratio of weight to height) of 30 or higher. Severe obesity — also called morbid obesity — begins at a BMI of 40. That’s a weight of about 235 for a person who is 5 feet 4 inches tall and a weight of about 280 for a person 5 feet 10 inches tall.

Even more extremely obese people have a BMI of 50 or more: a weight of about 292 pounds for that 5-foot-4 person and about 350 pounds for that 5-foot-10 person.”

This is a standard BMI chart. Find yourself on it. That will determine your course of action, although I think you probably already suspect whether or not you are obese, or overweight.

Contrast this with morbid obesity:

According to WebMD, the portion of our population with morbid obesity is growing at 3 x the rate of the rest of the population.  [Bolding mine].

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports:

Granted these are not figures for morbidly obese folks, however there is a fine line between obesity and morbidly obese.
And guess what?! Zija can help! There are thousands of weight loss success stories in the Zija archives. I look forward to sharing them with you.

To Your Health!

Annie, RN, MSN


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