Diabetes Diabetes Basics

What Is Morbid Obesity and What Can Be Done?

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Summary & Participants

For the 8 million Americans considered morbidly obese, health problems are virtually inevitable. But new weight loss procedures are helping people improve health and lose weight effectively.

Medically Reviewed On: July 21, 2012

Webcast Transcript

DAVID PROVOST, MD: America is becoming overweight. It really is an epidemic. Nearly two-thirds of Americans are now overweight, over a third of us are obese. There have been even higher estimates that as many as eight million Americans are morbidly obese.

KEVIN MONTGOMERY, MD: Morbid obesity is a condition where people have gained enough weight where they’re actually beginning to experience medical problems as a result of their obesity.

ANNOUNCER: Morbid obesity is generally defined as being 100 pounds or more above one’s ideal body weight or having a body mass index, or BMI, of 40 or greater.

DAVID PROVOST, MD: We define obesity based on the body mass index, which is a calculation based on a person’s height and weight. A body mass index that’s over 25, that person’s considered overweight. A body mass index over 30 represents obesity. And severe obesity or morbid obesity is defined by a body mass index over 40.

KEVIN MONTGOMERY, MD: There are charts that are available that people can look up their height and weight and get their BMI from the chart. Probably the most convenient way is to log on to a website such as the American Society for Bariatric Surgery and put in their height and weight and it will automatically calculate their BMI for them.

ANNOUNCER: Obesity is a major health concern as it can cause medical illnesses or worsen pre-existing ones.

KEVIN MONTGOMERY, MD: Some of the ones that are most common and more severe are things like type 2 or adult onset diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and other kinds of lipid disorders like elevated cholesterol or elevated triglycerides, many of which are risk factors for developing coronary artery disease.

ANNOUNCER: There are several strategies that obese people are encouraged to try, including exercise, dieting, behavior modification, as well as drug therapy. But while these tactics may help obese people reduce their weight initially, experts say that the likelihood of people maintaining that weight loss is slim.

DAVID PROVOST, MD: If we look at patients who undergo the medical management of obesity, whether it be dietary, exercise, behavioral, or ideally a combination of all of those, while a certain subset of patients may be able to lose up to fifty pounds, the percentage who can maintain that weight loss out beyond two years is much less than five percent.

Now with the morbidly obese, while certainly attempts at medical weight reduction are important and should be tried, the fact is, is that 99 percent of these people are not going to be able to achieve sustained weight loss through medical management alone.

ANNOUNCER: Because of the ineffectiveness of standard weight loss strategies, many morbidly obese people are turning to surgery in an attempt to try to lose the weight.

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