FACTS ABOUT OBESITY
Information about obesity, commonly associated conditions, and bariatric surgery options. Our board-certified physicians in New Jersey are committed to your success.
What is obesity?
Affecting more than 650 million adults worldwide, obesity is one of the most common health conditions in the world. A more severe form of obesity is called morbid obesity. Obesity results from excessive accumulation of fat that exceeds the body’s skeletal and physical standards. And obesity is emerging as a health epidemic around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is rapidly spreading across all regions and demographic groups. It is to the point where our life expectancy as a nation has actually decreased. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 70 percent of the adult population is overweight or obese. An estimated 15.5 million are considered morbidly obese.
What BMI is considered obese? 30 or over
There are many contributing factors to obesity and these include genetic/hereditary, environmental, metabolic, and eating disorders. Weight gain usually results when one of these factors affects us in a negative way.
Our genetic makeup plays a major role in gaining excess weight. It determines our “susceptibility” or “risk” of becoming overweight or obese. Our personalized attitudes also influence our behavior regarding what we eat and how much we engage in physical activities in our daily lives.
Genes also affect how efficiently our body utilizes and burns calories and where our body fat is stored. If you have a high metabolic rate, this means that you burn your calories a lot faster so you are less prone to gaining weight than someone else who has a slow metabolic rate. Even people with the same diet may not show any relation to the body weight of each other while a family whose members live apart and do not have the same diet may show a close relation to each other’s body size.
Calculate Your BMI
Underweight: less than 18.5
Normal weight: 18.5 – 24.9
Overweight: 25 – 29.9
Obese: 30 or greater
Environmental factors such as fast food and the weather can also affect the development of our body weight. For example, people who are always moving or are engaged in physical activities during their daily routine will less likely show signs of obesity than people who sit behind a desk all day.
Eating disorders and other medical conditions also influence our body weight. If you have a medical condition or an eating disorder, it is possible that your condition may be treated with just medication. So it is equally important to consult a doctor to make sure that surgery is the right solution for you.
What is morbid obesity?
Morbid obesity is typically defined as being 100 lbs. or more over ideal body weight or having a body mass index (BMI) of 40, or 35 if you have comorbid conditions. It is a chronic disease, meaning that its symptoms build slowly over an extended period of time. Morbid obesity can lead to the development of what are known as “comorbid” conditions. These are serious health issues that arise directly from the severe degree of obesity. These conditions should be thought of as “symptoms” of the morbid obesity disease since many can be prevented, cured, or greatly improved if the morbid obesity is treated. In study after study, the only long-term effective treatment for morbid obesity has been weight-loss surgery.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a long-term metabolic disorder where the body produces insulin but resists it. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use sugar. Because of excess weight, obese individuals develop a resistance to insulin, which controls blood sugar.
High blood pressure & heart disease
Excess body weight keeps the heart from working properly. The result can be high blood pressure (hypertension), which can cause strokes, heart, and kidney damage. While hypertension may occur regardless of someone’s age, gender, or body mass, it tends to be more severe in the obese.
Dyslipidemia & high cholesterol
Dyslipidemia is a disorder of lipids, which are the fat-like substances in the blood. A common form of dyslipidemia is hyperlipidemia (or high cholesterol), the condition that exists when someone has too much of certain lipids in the blood. As these lipids build up inside the artery walls, harmful scar tissue and other debris begin thickening and hardening the walls. Doctors call this condition atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
Osteoarthritis of weight-bearing joints
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis. Known as the wear-and-tear kind of arthritis, osteoarthritis is a chronic condition in which there is a breakdown of a joint’s cartilage. For anyone who is suffering from morbid obesity, the excess body weight placed on joints, particularly knees and hips, results in rapid wear and tear and pain caused by inflammation. Similarly, bones and muscles of the back are constantly strained, which causes disc problems, pain, and decreased movement ability.
Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself and the way one thinks about things. There are many reasons people with morbid obesity experience depression. Many of the everyday activities people with healthy body weight take for granted are big challenges for a person suffering from morbid obesity. These activities may include walking, social interaction, finding clothes that fit, and fitting in public seats. While depression may occur regardless of someone’s age, gender, or body mass, it tends to be more severe in the obese.
Sleep apnea & respiratory problems
Obstructive sleep apnea is when breathing suddenly stops because soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. Morbid obesity can cause sleep apnea and other respiratory problems. The greater your excess body weight, the greater the amount of fat pressing down on your chest and lungs. When you are morbidly obese, you are likely to have a greater buildup of fat deposits in the tongue and neck.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is injury to the esophagus caused by chronic exposure to stomach acid. While the symptom of heartburn is often associated with this disease, GERD is more than an annoyance. It is a serious disease that can cause esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus, and esophageal cancer. Occasional heartburn does not indicate GERD.
Excess body weight may weaken the valve at the top of the stomach, allowing acid to escape into the esophagus. This escape is known as gastroesophageal reflux.
Urinary stress incontinence
Among women, morbid obesity is a big risk factor for urinary stress incontinence, or uncontrollable urine loss. A large, heavy abdomen and relaxation of the pelvic muscles due to morbid obesity may cause the valve on the urinary bladder to weaken, leading to leakage of urine with coughing, sneezing, or laughing.
Asthma & pulmonary conditions
Asthma is a disease of the respiratory system in which the airways unexpectedly narrow. Adult-onset asthma is closely associated with GERD. Common symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing and chest tightness.
Reproductive health can be a concern for women struggling with morbid obesity. Issues such as infertility (the inability or reduced ability to produce children) and menstrual irregularities may occur due to morbid obesity. Menstruation issues include cycle interruption, abnormal flow, and additional pain during your menstrual cycle. Fertility issues include possible miscarriage, reduced success with fertility treatments, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS is an endocrine disorder in women of childbearing age that can cause infertility and other reproductive health conditions. Classic symptoms include obesity, an increase of facial and body hair (hirsutism), acne, irregular menstrual cycles, and infertility.
About obesity surgery
If you are thinking about bariatric (weight-loss) surgery and are having doubts about whether it is right for you, you’re not alone. Wondering if bariatric surgery is right for you is a very common concern.
Bariatric surgery is a life-changing procedure, and making that decision requires research, a good amount of reflection, and discussion with your doctor. However, you also should take a look at the science and know that weight-loss surgery can be an effective treatment for the lifelong condition of morbid obesity. As with any surgery, bariatric surgery may present risks. It’s important to learn about these risks and discuss them with your bariatric surgeon.
If traditional weight-loss methods have not worked, weight-loss surgery may be the right answer for you. And with its effectiveness in resolving or improving conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, sleep apnea, and others, it may improve the quality of your life.
Almost everyone has had at one point or another concerns and fears during the bariatric surgery decision-making process. By browsing these web pages and hearing our patients describe their experiences in their own words, you’ll find that you’re not alone.
The majority of people who consider bariatric surgery do so after years of unsuccessful dieting attempts, including participation in diet programs, taking weight-loss medications, and exercising. After years of losing weight and gaining it back, it is not unusual to blame yourself. This vicious cycle of weight loss and regain leaves many patients feeling demoralized and like failures. While this is the unfortunate nature of morbid obesity, this cycle can be broken.
Morbid obesity is a disease requiring lifelong treatment. Weight-loss surgery is a treatment option that alters the patient’s anatomy and physiology, allowing for significant weight loss and the reversal or improvement of co-morbid conditions.
Successful weight-loss surgery patients use the surgery as a powerful tool to help control their hunger. Along with exercise and a healthy diet, weight-loss surgery can help patients feel full and attain their goals of health and wellness. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call Advanced Laparoscopic Associates in Paramus, New Jersey today!
For additional information, all prospective patients are invited to attend a free educational seminar.
Seminars are a great source of information about the procedure you are considering, and they allow you to meet the surgeons as well as ask any questions you may have. You may also have the opportunity to meet some post-operative patients.