Morbid (Severe) Obesity
The extent to which a person is overweight is often measured using the Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI can be calculated by dividing one’s weight in kilograms by height in meters squared. A person is considered clinically obese if he/she has a BMI of 30 or more. Morbid obesity is defined as a BMI over 40.
This definition is simply a guide. It is important to remember that the health risks associated with obesity do not conform to rigid cutoff points. However, health risks increase as BMI increases.
The prevalence of obesity, the chronic disease, has increased from 1991 to 1998 in every state in the country, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, educational level, or smoking status. Today nearly one-quarter of adults in the U.S. are considered obese (having a BMI of 30 to 39). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 18 percent of the American population, nearly 97 million people, is considered obese (30 percent above ideal body weight).
In the U.S., obesity contributes to the death of an estimated 300,000 adults annually. According to the Surgeon General, obesity is one of the most common causes of preventable death in the U.S.
There are more than 30 obesity-related health risks, some of which may be fatal. Obesity is a known risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis, heart disease, sleep apnea, gallbladder and liver disease, stroke, and certain cancers, such as endometrial, colorectal, gallbladder, and renal. Obesity is also associated with infertility and menstrual irregularities, incontinence, and psychological disorders such as depression.
Obesity and associated health risks have increased health care costs in the United States. Each year treatment for obesity and its related conditions cost Americans over $99 billion. Direct health care expenditures, covering prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of obesity, represents $51.6 billion. The remaining $47.6 billion is in indirect costs, such as wages lost by people unable to work because of illness or disability.