Obesity involves an accumulation of excess body fat which has serious health risks. Studies have shown that obese individuals have increased risk for many diseases that can lead to premature death, including cancer, diabetes, stroke, sleep apnea, asthma, high blood pressure and other health problems. Abdominal fat is a strong predictor of risk for obesity-related diseases.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a widely used method for estimating body fat.
BMI is calculated by dividing the person’s weight by the square of his or her height. It is used to define whether a person is overweight or obese.
- An adult with BMI of 25 or higher is considered overweight.
- An adult with BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
- An adult with BMI of 35 or higher is considered morbidly obese.
BMI correlates with amount of body fat, but it does not directly measure body fat. So, it’s not a good way to estimate body fat for some people. For example, body builders and pregnant women may be identified as overweight based on their BMI even if they do not have excess body fat.
There are other ways of estimating a person’s body fat:
- Waist circumference
- Skin-fold thickness
- Waist-to-hip circumference ratio
- Computed tomography
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
For determining a person’s likelihood of developing obesity-related diseases, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends the use of two other predictors in addition to BMI:
- The person’s waist circumference and measurement of abdominal fat
- Other risk factors for obesity-related diseases, such as, high blood pressure or physical inactivity
Overweight and obese individuals have a greater risk of developing cancer.
More than 100,000 cancers in the United States each year are linked to excess body fat, according to American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).
It has been estimated that excess body fat is linked to the following cancers:
- 17% of breast cancers (33,000 cases per year)
- 28% of pancreatic cancers (11,900 cases per year)
- 49% of endometrial cancers (20,700 cases per year)
- 9% of colorectal cancers (13,200 cases per year)
- 21% of gallbladder cancers (2,000 cases per year)
- 35% of esophageal cancers (5,800 cases per year)
- 24% of kidney cancers (13,900 cases per year)
To prevent health problems related to being overweight or obese, individuals can lose weight or excess body fat by living a healthier lifestyle. Click link to get ideas for lasting weight control: 8 Easy weight control tips: How do you lose weight without dieting?
What are treatment options for morbid obesity?
Treatment options for morbid obesity include strict dieting, fasting, liquid diets and other very low calorie diets as well as FDA-approved drugs to help them lose weight. There are obesity management therapies that involve a combination of all of these options.
Morbidly obese individuals are usually not considered for weight loss surgery until after they have already tried and failed other medical weight loss options.
The two predominant surgical options for morbid obesity include laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery and laparoscopic gastric banding.
* Laparoscopic gastric banding involves placement of a silicon device around the upper part of the stomach. This band creates a small gastric pouch that helps the patient eat less.
* Laparoscopic gastric bypass involves stapling the stomach tissues to create a small gastric pouch. This procedure also involves division and re-routing of the small intestine to drain both the newly-created gastric pouch and the excluded part of the stomach.
Studies have shown that morbid obesity can lead to increased risk for cancer, diabetes, stroke and other diseases which can lead to premature death.
Despite the risks associated with weight loss surgery, it can be a reasonable option compared to obesity-related health risks and the risk of premature death — if morbid obesity is not treated.
If you’re morbidly obese, it’s important to discuss your medical and surgical options for treatment with your physician in order to understand the risks before you make any decisions.
For many overweight or obese individuals, effective strategies for lasting weight control can help decrease risk for cancer, diabetes, stroke and other healh problems associated with excess body fat. Preventing obesity can help avoid premature death.