Obesity is one of the major health problems confronting the United States. An estimated 60 percent of the population is overweight, and more than 5 million Americans are more than 100 pounds over their ideal weight. Most obese individuals have struggled with their weight for many years.
The numerous diets, commercial slimming clubs and weight loss centers offering treatments such as hypnosis, pituitary hormones, appetite suppression drugs and behavioral therapy attest to how difficult and frustrating it is to lose weight. Some of these weight loss strategies may be successful in people with mild obesity, but nearly all fail in individuals 100 pounds or more over their ideal body weight. At present, weight loss surgery is the only proven, effective therapy for severe obesity or morbid obesity.
Weighing 30 percent more than ideal body weight is considered obese. Morbid obesity, however, is much more serious. The National Institutes of Health define morbid obesity as anyone who is 100 pounds or more overweight or anyone who has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40.
Health Risks of Obesity
The American Journal of Medicine reports that 280,000 morbidly obese people die every year from weight-related problems. Within the next few years, obesity is expected to bypass smoking as the single largest cause of death from preventable diseases.
Obesity, and particularly morbid obesity, puts an individual at increased risk for the following conditions:
Gall bladder disease
High blood pressure
Some forms of cancer
Morbid obesity increases the risk of a shorter life expectancy. Individuals whose body weight exceeds twice their ideal body weight are seven times greater than non-obese people to develop diabetes or experience a heart attack. Weight gain alone can lead to end-stage obesity where no treatment options are available.