Morbid Obesity Definition: Its Symptoms And Surgical Treatment

Obesity has emerged as a public health concern across the globe. Studies conducted by the Center for Disease Control, have shown that obesity is rapidly spreading across the globe and is no longer restricted to a particular demographic group or race. As per estimates, 120 million adults in the United States are obese or overweight, while about 20 million suffering from morbid obesity.

Obesity refers to excess amount of fat accumulated in the body. This condition is caused due to higher intake of calories, which exceeds the usual energy usage of the body.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement which is used to measure the level of obesity in an individual and is derived by dividing the body weight in pounds to height in square inches and multiplying this value with 704.5.

What Is Considered Morbidly Obese?

A person is considered morbidly obese if,

  • He/she weighs 100 pounds more than their ideal weight.
  • He/she weighs twice of their ideal weight.
  • The BMI (Body mass index) is 40 or more.
  • The BMI is 35 or more and associated with the presence of at least one of the co-morbidities of obesity.

Comorbidity refers to any disease condition that is associated or directly linked with the primary disease condition.

Some of the common comorbidities associated with morbid obesity include diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, cancer, elevated cholesterol levels, cardiac disorders, osteoporosis, infertility, etc.

Signs And Symptoms Of Morbid Obesity

Morbid obesity is often associated with a host of symptoms which have an impact on the social, physical and psychological aspect of an individual’s life. It is important to differentiate between the comorbidities and symptoms of morbid obesity. Some of the common symptoms associated with morbid obesity include the following,

  • Sluggishness, lethargy and unwillingness perform any kind of physical activity.
  • Breathlessness, exhaustion and tiredness on slightest physical activity.
  • Sense of inferiority which impacts the overall confidence of the individual. In cases of severe inferiority complex, the individual may shun interactions with others and prefer to remain isolated.
  • Inability to concentrate on a particular task for longer duration of time.
  • Other symptoms including excessive perspiration; skin infections and ulcer on pressure points are also common.
  • Insomnia or inability to sleep is also observed in individuals with morbid obesity. This is primarily linked with the inability of the individual to acquire a comfortable position while sleeping.

Surgical Treatment Of Morbid Obesity

While obesity can be treated promptly with diet and exercise regimen, its effectiveness in managing morbid obesity is very limited and is considered to be as low as 2 to 5%. Bariatric surgery is considered to have profound impact on management of morbid obesity and the results can help bring down weight by 50 to 70%.

Over the past few years, several innovations in the domain of bariatric surgery, has improved the efficacy of treatment of morbid obesity. Some of the most advanced and accepted treatments including laparoscopic gastric banding surgery and gastric sleeve surgery. These surgical interventions play a very vital role in improving overall health of the individual and also improving the quality of life.

While these surgical treatments can help lose weight in the tune of 50 to 70%, their long term efficacy continues to remain questionable. Studies have shown that individual need to follow a strict dietary regimen and exercise regularly after the surgery to maintain the benefits of the weight loss surgery.