What is Obesity?

Obesity is the accumulation of excessive fat that exceeds the body's physical standards. Basically, obesity occurs when caloric intake exceeds caloric expenditure. Today, one hundred and thirty million Americans are overweight, and sixty million are obese. An estimated nine million of those are considered morbidly obese. Obesity becomes "morbid" when it reaches the point of increasing the risk and probability of one or more obesity-related health conditions or diseases that can result in either physical limitations or death.

Morbid obesity is typically defined as being one hundred pounds or more over a person's ideal body weight, or as having a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more. Resulting health conditions can include, but are not limited to, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, high cholesterol, arthritis of weight-bearing joints, depression, sleep apnea or other respiratory problems, heartburn, infertility, menstrual irregularities, and urinary stress incontinence.

The causes of obesity are multiple and complex. Despite common opinion, it is not simply a result of overeating. Research has shown that in many cases a significant cause of morbid obesity is genetic. It is important to understand that all current medical interventions in regard to weight-related health, including weight loss surgery, should not be considered medical "cures." Instead, surgical procedures are tools, which attempt to reduce the effects of excessive weight, and the serious physical, emotional, and social consequences of morbid obesity.