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Step 1: Understanding morbid obesity
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Morbid obesity is a serious medical condition. If you are morbidly obese, it means that you are severely overweight, usually by at least 100 pounds. It also means that you have excessive amounts of body fat compared to healthy standards.

Fat thickness, which varies greatly from one person to another, depends on the size and number of your fat cells.

Knowing whether or not you are morbidly obese is important. This condition puts you at very high risk for a host of serious medical problems, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease. Being morbidly obese may also hamper your ability to get around, adversely affect your joints, expose you to possible discrimination or social stigma, and may lower your self-esteem.

If you are morbidly obese, you should remember three important points:

  1. Morbid obesity does not mean weakness, laziness or gluttony. It is a serious medical condition with serious medical consequences. Current research suggests that many factors work together to influence your weight. These include genetics, your eating habits as a child and adult, hormones, and psychological and other factors.
  2. You are not alone. About 65 percent of all Americans are considered overweight, about 25 percent are considered obese, and about 4 percent are considered morbidly obese. All of these numbers are on the rise.
  3. There is hope. Resources are available to help you avoid the medical consequences of morbid obesity.

How do I know if I'm morbidly obese?

A good way to assess your weight is to calculate your body mass index (BMI). Your BMI estimates how much you should weigh based on your height. You can check your BMI by consulting our BMI chart or by using the handy calculator below:

Enter your height: feet inches
Enter your weight in pounds: pounds
Your body mass index is:

Use the chart below to see what category you fall into, and whether you need to be concerned about your weight.

Below 18.5Underweight
18.5 - 24.9Normal
25.0 - 29.9Overweight
30.0 and AboveObese
Over 40Morbidly obese

Although your BMI is a simple way to evaluate whether your weight puts you at potential risk for health problems, other factors may also affect your health. These include:

  • General health history
  • Level of physical activity
  • Diet
  • Waist measurement
  • Smoking history
  • Family health history
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood sugar
  • Blood cholesterol levels

Your health care provider can help you evaluate your BMI and these other factors to determine your overall health picture.

Weight gain in the area of the waist and above (apple type) is more dangerous than weight gained around the hips and flank area (pear type). Fat cells in the upper body have different qualities than those found in hips and thighs. Men should have a waist less than 40 inches. Most women should have a waist that is less than 35 - 37 inches.


Jensen MD. Obesity. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 227.


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Review Date: 12/16/2012
Reviewed By: Robert A. Cowles, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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