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What is Morbid Obesity?

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  • Written By: Kathy R
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 19 December 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
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Morbid obesity is a condition that occurs when a person a severely overweight. According to most health guidelines, anyone who is more than 100 pounds (45 kilograms) overweight can be considered morbidly obese. Another way to determine if someone falls into this category is by measuring body mass index (BMI). Using medical standards, a person with a BMI over 40 is morbidly obese.

People who suffer from morbid obesity face a large number of health problems related to their condition. They may have trouble doing simple activities, such as walking and even breathing. Also, the added weight puts a lot of stress on both their skeletal systems and hearts. It is imperative that people with this condition take steps to lose weight in order to preserve long-term health.

While a traditional reduced-calorie diet combined with low-impact exercise can help people suffering from morbid obesity, many choose to undergo surgical procedures. This can make weight loss faster and easier for some people. Two popular procedures are gastric banding and gastric bypass.

Gastric banding involves a silicon band, which a doctor wraps around a patient’s upper stomach. This reduces the part of the stomach that a person can use to digest food. With this reduction, the patient must eat smaller amounts of food and typically feels satisfied with less. This band is removable, and can be expanded or contracted, as needed, by a trained physician.

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Gastric bypass is a more invasive procedure. With this surgery, the doctor creates a pouch that makes food bypass most of the stomach and a portion of the small intestine. It eliminates the expandable portion of the stomach, limiting food intake to only one ounce (28 grams) at a time. This procedure is irreversible. People that have it done must adjust their eating habits for the rest of their lives.

Once a patient has weight loss surgery, he or she can only eat small amounts at one sitting. Overeating can lead to severe pain, vomiting and nausea. Food can also get lodged in the stomach pouch if the person does not chew it thoroughly.

In 2009, reports estimated that as many as six million Americans suffered from morbid obesity. This is also a problem in many other parts of the world. While genetics play some role in a person's risk of morbid obesity, it is up to each individual to manage his or her diet and to get enough exercise. It can also help to eat slowly, increase fiber intake and drink at least eight glasses of water every day.

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