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Obesity: BMI-Defined Excess Body Fat

Obesity Explained

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What is Obesity?

The term "obesity" refers to a disease of excessive accumulation of body fat. Usually (but not always) people who are severely overweight are also obese, as the most common symptom of overweight is having excess fatty tissue. Types of obesity include mild, morbid, malignant and abdominal. The recent surge in this form of severe overweight has been labelled an epidemic by health experts.

Obesity As Defined By the Body Mass Index (BMI)

The body mass index is the standard method of judging the difference between normal weight, overweight and obesity. BMI assesses weight status according to your height and how much you weigh. Someone with a BMI rating of 30 or more is considered to be obese.

What is Abdominal or Central Obesity?

Abdominal obesity refers to excess fat storage around the middle (abdomen, stomach). Often seen in men, as men tend to be apple-shaped and store fat on their belly, abdominal obesity is now considered to be an independent risk factor for several serious diseases like cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Women after menopause whose estrogen levels fall, also tend to store fat around their middle. As a basic guide, a waist circumference > 40 (in men) or > 35 (in women) indicates possible abdominal obesity.

What is Morbid Obesity?

The term "morbid obesity" refers to severe clinical obesity. A person with a BMI rating of 40 or more is considered to be morbidly obese. Morbid obesity is the basic qualifying standard for bariatric surgery, like gastric bypass or Lap Band.

What is Malignant Obesity?

The term "malignant obesity" (super-obesity) refers to very severe clinical obesity. A person with a BMI rating of 50 or more is considered to suffer from malignant obesity. This extreme form of overweight is typically accompanied by life-threatening co-morbidities, and is typically treated by stomach bypass surgery.

What Are the Health Risks of Obesity?

Generally speaking, the more obese you are, the higher the risk of health problems. Morbidly obese patients have a higher risk of many illnesses, including: hypertension, heart disease and stroke; type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance; dyslipidemia (high cholesterol or high triglycerides); breast and colon cancer; sleep apnea; osteoarthritis and musculoskeletal complaints; glandular and hormonal problems; as well as skin complications. Patients with malignant or super-obesity (BMI 50+) have an even greater risk of serious illness.

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