What is Obesity?
Obesity is a serious disease with symptoms that build slowly over an extended period of time. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) define morbid obesity as:
- Being 100 pounds or more above your ideal body weight
- Or, having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or greater
- Or, having a BMI of 35 or greater and one or more co-morbid conditions
Morbid obesity interferes with basic physical functions such as breathing or walking.
Long-term implications include shorter life expectancy, serious health consequences in the form of weight-related conditions and a lower quality of life with fewer economic and social opportunities.
Obesity is a serious public health issue. In the U.S.:
- 24 million U.S. adults are living with morbid obesity and may qualify for bariatric surgery based on NIH guidelines.
- By 2010, it is projected that there may be 31 million U.S. adults living with morbid obesity and may qualify for bariatric surgery based on NIH guidelines.
Learn more about morbid obesity.
Health Risks of Obesity
Health risks by condition.
Men living with morbid obesity have 50% to 100% higher mortality rates than men with a healthy weight1.
Men with Morbid Obesity Have Higher Cancer Mortality Rates*
|Type of Cancer
Women living with morbid obesity have 50% to 100% higher mortality rates than women with a healthy weight1.
Women with Morbid Obesity Have Higher Cancer Mortality Rates*
|Types of Cancer
| All types
* Compared to people with a healthy weight.
* A Note on Relative Risk
The chart refers to “relative risk,” which compares how likely an event is to occur to a person versus another person. The chart shows how much more likely a person with morbid obesity is to develop cancer or die from cancer versus a person with a healthy weight.
1 National Institutes of Health. Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults [Online] 17 August 2007.
2 National Cancer Institute. Obesity and Cancer. Questions and Answers. [Online] 31 June 2007.
3 Calle E, rodriguez C, Waler-Thurmond K, et al. Overweight, Obesity, and Mortality from Cancer in a Prospectively Studies Cohort of U.S. Adults. N Engl J Med 2003;348(17):1625-38.