Definition of Morbid Obesity

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Definition of Morbid Obesity

The definition of morbid obesity has long been considered as an important concept in health studies. Today, this definition plays a vital role in determining whether or not a person qualifies for weight loss surgery or if patients are still able to carry out normal weight loss activities without endangering their health. The definition of morbid obesity albeit arbitrary at the most technical level, represents an important milestone in a person’s fight against weight gain and is perhaps the final and most urgent warning bell that a patient can ever receive when quantifying the risks and effects of piling on excessive weight.

In medical literature, the definition of morbid obesity is simple: a person is considered morbidly obese when he or she has a body mass index that exceeds 40. Body mass index, or BMI, is the ratio of one’s weight to one’s height and is used to determine just how much weight above what is normal or recommended has been taken on by a patient. For most patients, reaching a BMI of 40 or more implies that the patient is overweight by about 100 pounds over his or her recommended healthy weight.

For medical science, this definition of morbid obesity is the last threshold used to characterize excessive weight gain. A patient characterized as morbidly obese is advised to immediately take the necessary steps to reduce weight, including when necessary, undergoing weight loss surgery. This is because while there is no definitive indication that morbid obesity causes more worrying circumstances than, say, a patient with a BMI of 39.5, there are studies that are conclusive enough to raise the appropriate warning flags for weight gain at this stage.

In particular, morbid obesity is responsible for life threatening conditions such as heart disease, Type II diabetes, hypertension, liver problems, stroke, and embolisms among other medical problems. Excess weight gain increases one’s risks for these conditions which in turn raises the severity and urgency of one’s problems. Doctors therefore feel that the definition of morbid obesity corresponds to a last ditch attempt to change a person’s lifestyle habits by justifying the recommendation of drastic weight loss measures such as some form of gastric bypass surgery.

Of course, the definition of morbid obesity is not universal for everyone. For patients who already have a predisposed tendency for these life threatening conditions, the threshold for urgency and severity of the condition may have to be defined at a lower number. For example, patients with historical cases of diabetes in their families are more likely to be considered morbidly obese when their BMI is at 35 as opposed to the standard 40. This is because a patient with genetic risks for these co-morbidities may already be exposed to the same life threatening risks at BMI=35 as a person with no genetic markers for co-morbidities at BMI=40. Again, the definition of morbid obesity becomes all the more subjective in this case, but likewise backed by an extensive family tree that maps out one’s health risks on multiple levels.

In the end, patients should not wait to cross the definition of morbid obesity before they become conscious of their plight. Weight gain is a serious issue and one that not only impacts health but also one’s quality of life. Where possible, people who are overweight should take the necessary steps early on to fight additional weight gain in order to eliminate the possibility of ever crossing BMI=40. It is a personal decision with serious personal implications so taking personal responsibility is the most natural course of action in the fight against weight problems.