Identifying Obesity

Identifying ObesityMedical terminology can often seem confusing, especially if it is not related to a specific health condition. In the case of obesity, which is sometimes called morbid obesity, there are clear guidelines to help determine when an individual is obese.

What Is Severe Obesity?

The Obesity Action Coalition explains that an individual is classified as severely obese if he or she has a Body Mass Index (BMI) that is 40 or higher. When medical professionals do not use a BMI to classify obesity, they may use ideal weight ranges instead.

According to the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES), medical professionals may also classify an individual as severely obese if he or she is 100 pounds greater than his or her ideal weight range. The ideal weight range is based on the height and weight tables from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

Although morbid obesity is usually based on the BMI or the weight that exceeds ideal ranges, the Obesity Action Coalition explains that individuals who have weight-related health concerns like diabetes or high blood pressure may be classified as severely obese if they also have a BMI of 35 or higher.

Why Severe Obesity Occurs

When an individual is morbidly obese, it can be caused by several factors. Although SAGES explains that the basic cause of severe obesity is that the individual does not expend enough energy or takes in more calories than he or she can use, there may be several factors that contribute to the situation.

Contributing factors may include:

  • Psychological factors
  • Genetics
  • Health-related factors
  • Cultural influences
  • The environment in which the individual lives

Because several factors can contribute to morbid obesity, it may not be related to the simple behaviors of the individual.

Treatment Options

Treating severe obesity can often require surgical procedures. According to SAGES, nonsurgical treatments may work for short-term results; however, many individuals do not see positive long-term results. Surgical procedures have the best long-term impact on morbid obesity, but it is important to discuss the procedures and the options with a medical professional to determine if it is appropriate for a specific individual.

When an individual is classified as morbidly obese, it can mean that his or her health is being affected by the additional weight. Discussing the treatment options with a medical professional can help the individual determine whether a surgical procedure is appropriate and what options are best for him or her.

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