23 August 2008

Morbid obesity is defined as being 50–100 percent above one’s ideal body weight, or 100 pounds above ideal body weight. Persons who are at least 80 pounds over weight and have life-threatening obesity related problems such as diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, etc. A person with a BMI value of 40 or greater also considered morbidly obese.

Obesity problems can afflict men and women, adults, teenagers, and children. There are gender- and age-related differences in the types and incidence of obesity problems, but every person who is suffering from morbid obesity has the same problem — determining the best way to safely attain normal weight.

Morbid obesity surgery is a serious choice for an obese person, one not to make lightly or in an emotional moment. However, chronic obesity problems have made life an unhealthy and unpleasant journey for many people, and morbid obesity surgery has greatly improved the health and lives of thousands of patients. The various types of obesity surgery each have a distinct set of possible complications that should be taken into account. Consulting with an experienced and qualified obesity surgeon to determine whether you are the candidate for obesity surgery is a recommended preliminary step.

Psychological and Social Effects of Morbid Obesity
While morbid obesity certainly takes a physical toll on the body, it also takes a psychological toll. Some of obesity's worst effects are emotional pain and suffering. Society does not look kindly upon those who are very overweight, and many people do not understand obesity's complex causes and effects. Additionally, there is the common misconception that all obese people are simply lazy, which is absolutely not true. Nevertheless, this misconception leads to prejudices and discrimination in the job market, at schools, and in social situations. These prejudices often cause obese people to feel rejection, shame, and depression.

Causes of Morbid Obesity
The causes of obesity cannot be defined easily. An individual's transition from normal weight to overweight to obesity to morbid obesity usually involves an intake of food calories that is greater than the rate at which the individual is burning off those calories. However, there are many different reasons for this imbalance of calories in/calories out, and several factors are involved. The causes of obesity may include an individual's genetic makeup, metabolism, culture, environment, socioeconomic status, and behavior.

Genetic Factors
It is possible for an individual's genetic makeup to directly cause obesity; disorders such as Prader-Willi syndrome and Bardet-Biedl syndrome are examples. However, most cases of morbid obesity are not based solely on such a genetic cause. The term "genetic factors" might be more easily understood as heredity. It has been observed that obesity often runs in families, with obesity being more common in some families than others. This would suggest genetic causes of obesity. However, a given family would also probably share a similar lifestyle and similar diet, which would contribute to the incidence (or absence) of obesity.

Environmental Factors
A person's environment (home, workplace, school, community, etc.) can have a significant impact on risk of developing morbid obesity
  • The types of food that are available to the individual
  • The quantity of food available
  • The level of physical activity available or attainable
  • The diet and exercise habits of the individual
  • Diet and exercise habits of people in the individual's immediate environment
People may make health-related lifestyle decisions based on their environment. For example, someone may choose not to walk to many places because of the car-oriented layout of the surrounding community. Another individual might find the unhealthy lunch buffet at his/her office very difficult to resist. And of course, children do not have much control over their environment; their food choices are usually dictated by their parents.

Psychological Factors
A person's risk of developing morbid obesity is often heavily influenced by psychological factors. Boredom, depression, anxiety, stress, trauma and feelings of low self-esteem are examples of psychological factors that could result in an individual's overeating and under-exercising. Although the psychological aspect of morbid obesity can be difficult to overcome, it is not impossible. Merely identifying the psychological problems can help an individual greatly in his or her understanding of the basis of overeating.

Other Causes
Illnesses can also lead to morbid obesity. Some of these include hypothyroidism, Cushing's syndrome, depression, and other neurological problems. The use of steroids and certain antidepressants can also lead to weight gain.

Obesity impairs a person's mobility, making physical activity more difficult, compounding the problem and further increasing the risk of developing or worsening some of these conditions. Here is an abbreviated list of conditions which are affected by obesity:
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gout, a disease affecting the joints
  • Diabetes
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Respiratory problems, including sleep apnea
  • Cancer
  • Reproductive and gynecological problems in women

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