What is Morbid Obesity

The term “morbid” is defined in Webster’s dictionary as “Not sound and healthful; induced by a diseased or abnormal condition; diseased; sickly; …” Morbid obesity results from the excessive accumulation of fat that exceeds your body’s skeletal and physical standards. Morbid obesity is defined medically as more than 100 pounds greater than the ideal body weight or a Body Mass Index (BMI) that is more than 40 kg/m2.

Morbid obesity is a serious chronic illness and not the result of immorality or gluttony. Research has shown that in many cases a significant, underlying cause of morbid obesity is genetic – you inherit the tendency to gain weight. The combination of a genetic predisposition to gain weight with plentiful and easily accessible processed food has resulted in the obesity epidemic in North America and the world. Here is a list of factors that contribute to the development of morbid obesity:

  1. Genetic predisposition i.e. you inherit the tendency to be obese.
  2. The environment i.e. having easy access to plentiful, processed, food and inability or lack of desire for vigorous physical activity.
  3. Psychosocial issues e.g. abused as child, depression due to taunting which precipitates more eating.
  4. Eating disorders
  5. Metabolic disorders e.g. rare medical conditions.
  6. Drugs e.g. antidepressants or steroids.
  7. Other unknown conditions

Morbid obesity damages the body by its mechanical, metabolic and physiological adverse effects on normal bodily function.

Obesity puts your health at risk. Obesity dramatically increases the risk of:

 1. Type 2 diabetes

2. High blood pressure

3. High levels of triglycerides (a type of blood fat)

4. Heart disease and stroke

5. Arthritis

6. Obstructive sleep apnea

Higher body weights are also associated with cancer and early death.

The table below presents relative risks. Relative risk compares how likely an event is to occur to a person versus another person. The rates show how much more likely a person with morbid obesity is to develop cancer or die from cancer compared to a person with healthy weight.

Health Condition Women Men
Type 2 Diabetes 400% higher risk of occurrence 400% higher risk of occurrence
High Blood Pressure 210% higher risk of occurrence 190% higher risk of occurrence
Coronary Heart Disease 300% higher risk of occurrence 300% higher risk of occurrence
Stroke 137% higher risk of occurrence
Esophageal Cancer 200% higher risk of occurrence 200% higher risk of occurrence
Kidney Cancer 84% higher risk of occurrence 84% higher risk of occurrence
Breast Cancer 50% higher risk of occurrence

Morbid obesity, if untreated, is also associated with a higher relative risk of death.

  • Women living with morbid obesity have 50 – 100% higher mortality (death) rates than women with a healthy weight, including 62% higher cancer mortality rate.
  • Men living with morbid obesity have 50-100 % higher mortality rates than men with a healthy weight, including a 52% higher cancer mortality rate.