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morbid_obesityWhat is Morbid Obesity and Why Does it Happen?

Sixty-six percent of Americans are overweight. This is staggering enough, but add this fact: 6.8 million adult Americans are classified as morbidly obese. We are a nation that literally grows larger by the day. But what qualifies someone as morbidly obese? What keeps her from being classified as simply overweight or obese? The answer lies in something called body mass index (BMI).

Body mass index is calculated by dividing your weight (in kilograms) by the square of your height (in meters). So if you're 5'6" and weigh 145 lbs, your BMI would be 24.2, putting you in the healthy range. (There are websites that can calculate your BMI for you, so you don't have to worry about the math.) A BMI between 18 and 25 is considered healthy, while 25–30 is overweight, 30–40 is obese, and anything over 40 is morbidly obese. This level of morbid obesity leads to any number of health complications and diseases. Morbid obesity causes vary from person to person, but no matter what, it's a critical health issue that must be addressed.

Important Indicators for Unhealthy Obesity

Morbid obesity causes are generally simple: eating too much and not exercising enough. As calorie-rich but nutrient-poor food becomes more available and technology allows us to become more sedentary, obesity seems almost unavoidable. However, these lifestyle factors can be exacerbated by genetic causes of obesity. Certain genetic markers indicate a propensity towards obesity. Obesity genetics come into play when one or more parents is obese or overweight, as this leads to a much higher risk of obesity for the child. Additionally, Native Americans have an especially high rate of obesity because of their "thrifty gene," which encourages their bodies to stockpile extra calories in preparation for times of famine. A thousand years ago, this was necessary for survival. Now, however, famine never comes and their bodies still stockpile calories.

It would take pages to list all the risks of morbid obesity. Some of the most important are type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease, gall bladder disease, stroke, and pancreatitis. Morbid obesity causes strain on bones, leading to osteoporosis. Generally, obesity puts such excess stress on the body that health problems are inevitable.

It's tough to lose weight, but those who are morbidly obese should know that they're not alone. There is help for morbid obesity. If diet and exercise aren't working, doctors can prescribe drugs like Xenical and Meridia to speed up the weight loss process. As a last resort, surgeries like stomach-stapling and gastric bypass are available. However, these procedures are not without their risks, so they should not be considered lightly.

Obesity is the number one preventable health problem in the world. As more and more people have access to fatty foods and sugars, the number of morbidly obese people in the world skyrockets. Though it's difficult, this is a problem that can be counteracted. Morbid obesity causes can be fought, and even moderate weight loss will lead to huge health benefits.
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