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Morbid Obesity

What is Morbid 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 condition

The disease of morbid obesity interferes with basic physical functions such as breathing or walking. Long-term implications of the disease include shorter life expectancy, serious health consequences in the form of weight-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and a lower quality of life with fewer economic and social opportunities.

What are Co-morbid Conditions?

A co-morbid condition is a health condition related to a primary disease such as obesity. The presence of obesity increases the risk of a number of medical conditions, including cancer.
There are many health conditions related to morbid obesity, but some of the most common are:

  • Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, amputation of the feet or legs, and nerve damage
  • Heart disease, such as hardening of the arteries, heart attack, and angina
  • High blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and vision loss
  • High cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure
  • Obstructive sleep apnea has been associated with high blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Osteoarthritis and joint pain, which can lead to loss of mobility
  • Stress urinary incontinence
  • Female reproductive health disorder, which can lead to infertility and sexual dysfunction

How Does Bariatric Surgery Work?

There are several different bariatric surgery procedures, but the two general ways in which they work are restriction and malabsorption:

  • Restriction limits the amount of food you can eat. Whether it is a gastric banding device around the stomach or a surgically-created, smaller stomach pouch, restriction ensures that the patient feels satisfied with less food.
  • Malabsorption limits the number of calories and nutrients your body can absorb. During malabsorptive procedures, the surgeon reroutes the small intestine so that fewer calories and nutrients are absorbed.

Commonly performed bariatric procedures include:

  • Gastric bypass
  • Gastric banding
  • Sleeve gastrectomy
  • Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch

Only you and your surgeon can decide if surgery is right for you.

How Does Diet Affect Weight?

To lose weight, your body must burn more calories than you eat and/or drink. A diet plan should be based on your health and lifestyle needs, and would include reducing the number of calories you take in. If you are considering this option, speak with your primary care physician about nutritional guidelines, and keep in mind that many bariatric programs also offer medically supervised weight loss programs.

How Does Exercise Affect Weight?

Frequent and regular physical activity is beneficial to most anyone whether they are pre- or postsurgery. Generally, an exercise program includes cardiovascular exercise such as walking, swimming, or cycling, strength training using resistance bands, weights, or machines, and stretching. Speak with your primary care physician before beginning any physical activity.

Are Prescription Weight Loss Medications an Option?

Prescription weight loss medications may be considered a supplement to diet and exercise. Only a healthcare professional can prescribe these weight loss medications.

For information on surgical weight loss, call 718.780.3288 and for non-surgical weight loss options, call 718. 246.8600.