Morbid Obesity – What Is It? How to Prevent and Treated It?

Morbid Obesity

What is morbid obesity?

The Morbid obesity is a condition in which the person has a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40. The BMI is used to estimate body fat and can help determine if you have a healthy body weight for your size.

The BMI is not a perfect measurement, but it helps to offer a general idea of the ideal weight ranges according to the height.

What are the causes of morbid obesity?

When you eat, your body uses the calories you consume to make it work. Even at rest, the body needs calories to pump the heart or digest food.

If those calories are not used, the body stores them in the form of fat. The body will accumulate fat reserves if you continue to eat more calories than you can consume during daily activities and exercise.

Obesity and morbid obesity are the results of too much fat that is stored in the body.

Certain medications, such as antidepressants, can cause weight gain. Medical conditions such as hypothyroidism can also lead to weight gain, but they can usually be controlled to prevent them from causing obesity.

Who is at risk of suffering from morbid obesity?

Anyone can gain weight and become obese if he eats more calories than his body can consume.

Some studies show that genetic factors play an important role in the way the body stores energy. The relationship between weight and genes is being further investigated.

Many behavioral factors also play a role in obesity, including eating habits and the level of daily activity.


Many people develop their eating habits when they are children and have problems maintaining an adequate body weight as they get older.

As an adult, you may be inactive at work and have less time to exercise, plan meals and perform physical activity.

Other factors such as the stress, anxiety and lack of sleep can lead to weight gain. People who stop smoking often experience a temporary increase in weight.

Women can also have problems losing the weight they gain during pregnancy, or they can gain weight during menopause. These factors do not necessarily lead to morbid obesity, but they certainly can contribute to its appearance.

Diagnosis of morbid obesity

The doctor will perform a physical examination and analyze if you have a healthy body weight. The BMI is calculated when the weight in kilograms is divided by the height in square meters.

You can calculate your BMI using a calculator provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here are the ranges of the BMI and its corresponding categories of obesity:

  • Less than normal weight: less than 18.5 percent
  • Normal: 18.5 to 24.9 percent
  • Overweight: 25.0 to 29.9
  • Obese (class 1): 30.0 and 34.9
  • Morbid obesity (class 2): 35-39.9

The use of BMI as a diagnostic tool for obesity has its limitations. Your BMI is just an estimate of your body fat. For example, athletes may have a high weight due to their greater muscle mass.

They could fall into the obese or morbidly obese BMI range, but in reality, they have a small amount of body fat. Because of this, the doctor may use other tests to get a more accurate reading of the percentage of body fat you have.

Calculation of body fat percentage

skinfold exam can also be done to check the percentage of body fat. In this test, a doctor measures the thickness of a skin fold of the arm, abdomen or thigh with a gauge.

Another way to test body fat percentage includes bioelectrical impedance, which is often done using a special type of scale.

Finally, body fat can be measured more accurately using special equipment to calculate the displacement of water or air.

Other tests

Your doctor may order additional blood tests to look for hormonal problems or other medical problems that may be causing the weight gain.

Complications of Morbid Obesity

Obesity is a serious problem for health. Without proper treatment, obesity can lead to other more serious problems, such as:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Heart disease and abnormalities in blood lipids
  • Apoplexy
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sleep apnea (when you stop breathing periodically during sleep)
  • Reproductive problems
  • Gallstones
  • Certain Cancers
  • Hypoventilation syndrome due to obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome

Treatment of morbid obesity

There are several different treatment options for morbid obesity.

Diet and exercise

There is no data on the most effective way to induce long-term weight loss, but a healthy diet and regular exercise are the keys to good overall health.

It is also important to learn the stress management tools that can be used instead of overeating or snacking during times of stress.

You should work with your doctor and a dietitian to set realistic goals that help you lose weight slowly through diet and exercise.

It may be helpful to find support from friends, family or your community to make lifestyle changes that allow you to lose weight in the long term.

Medications to lose weight

In some cases, medications to lose weight can be prescribed. These medications can cause weight loss, but most people recover once they stop taking them.

There are many herbal and over-the-counter supplements that claim to help you lose weight, but many of these claims have not been verified.

Bariatric surgery

By bariatric surgery, we understand the whole set of surgical procedures that are used to treat morbid obesity.

And is that surgery can also be an option to treat obesity if you have tried other methods to lose weight but you have not been successful in its long-term maintenance.

They can often reduce the risk of other diseases (eg, heart disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea ) that are associated with severe obesity.

Surgery can cause complications, and it is recommended that you talk to your doctor to determine if this is an option for you. There are two common types of weight loss surgeries:

Gastric Band Surgery

In this procedure, the surgeon will place a band around the upper part of the stomach. This limits the amount of food you can eat at any given time by making yourself feel full after eating small amounts of food.

Gastric bypass surgery

This surgery will change the way the food you eat travels through your digestive tract by omitting a portion of your stomach and connecting it directly to the small intestine. It will make you feel full when you have eaten less food.

How to Prevent Morbid Obesity

Morbid obesity and obesity in general, are very serious conditions and can be life-threatening. A healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise is important to prevent obesity.


Diet and exercise

People with morbid obesity should avoid “passing” diets and focus on changing eating behaviors. The recommendations include:

  • Add more fruits and vegetables to the diet
  • Eat smaller portions
  • Count the calories
  • Eat with attention
  • Limit saturated fats, trans fats, and refined sugars

Physical activity is good for general health and it is especially important if you are trying to lose weight.

To start losing weight, you will need to do moderate to intense exercise for more than three hours per week. Intense activity significantly increases heart rate.

Make sure to check with your doctor before starting any strong physical exercise program.

Examples of a beneficial physical activity include:

  • Running or jogging
  • Swimming
  • Jump rope
  • Energetic walk
  • Cycling

Moderate exercise can also include everyday activities such as working in the garden.

As you may have observed, morbid obesity is not a topic to be taken lightly, so do not hesitate to consult your doctor if you have it or think you have it.

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