Obesity and Its Complications

Obesity: Definitions and Complications

It is common knowledge that there is an obesity epidemic in the United States. It is also common knowledge that multiple health problems, including diabetes, are direct results of obesity. Annual expenses in this country directly resulting from the rampant occurrence of obesity, including health care costs, decreased productivity, weight loss products, and disabilities related to obesity are estimated at 100 billion dollars per year.

Everyone knows the above information. What is less common knowledge is exactly how obesity is defined in medical terms, and how to tell the difference between someone who could merely "stand to lose a few pounds," and someone who is obese.

Simply put, obesity is characterized as having too much body fat. There is a difference between someone having too much fat and having too much overall weight. For example, muscle weighs more than fat, so professional bodybuilders will weigh more than a merely trim healthy individual of the same height. Conversely, members of a population such as the elderly, who have reduced musculature, may underestimate how much body fat they have because they have lost weight overall.

The BMI, or Body Mass Index, does not take into account this variation. However, for most people, it serves as a reasonable estimation to determine if they have an appropriate amount of body fat. Ask your health care provider to help you determine your BMI and see where you fit in. The BMI is calculated by taking one's weight in kilograms, dividing it by the square of one's height in meters. Excess fat in the area of the waist is associated with more morbidity than fat in the area of the hips. The risks for the conditions mentioned below are higher in men with a waist circumference greater than 40 inches, and for women greater than 30 inches.

Here is a brief informal list of BMIs and their relative labels:

• 20 or below: Underweight
• 22: Optimal-associated with the lowest mortality rate.
• 25-30: Overweight
• 30-40: Obese
• 40-50: Severely Obese
• 50-60: Morbidly Obese
• 60 and over: Super Obese.

Some of the problems associated with obesity are as follows:

1.) Cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks, Atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and heart failure
2.) Pulmonary Disorders, such as Asthma and Sleep Apnea
3.) Gastroenterological Disorders, such as Gallbladder Disease, Fatty Liver, Gastroesophogeal Reflux
4.) Neurological Complications, such as Stroke
5.) Certain malignancies (cancers)
6.) Depression
7.) Degenerative Arthritis
8.) Reproductive issues such as Polycystic Ovary Disease and Stress Incontinence
9.) A higher surgical risk from wound infections, phlebitis, pulmonary embolisms, and pneumonia
10.) Dysmetabolic Syndrome, including Diabetes Type II, Hypertension, high triglycrides, and low HDL (low "good cholesterol")

There is some good news for people with diabetes who also suffer from obesity. As you treat your diabetes by utilizing diet and exercise to achieve your weight loss goals, you may lower your risk of many of the complications from obesity while increasing your control over diabetes. A weight loss of only 10-15 lbs. may make a significant difference. If you think you may have a weight problem, discuss it with your health care provider.

Feel free to visit http://www.diabeticsurvivalkit.com for information about food shopping and meal preparation, and ask your health care provider if this information would prove helpful for you. Dr. Sybil Kramer and her daughter Tova Searleman will continue providing further information on diabetes, obesity, nutrition, and a number of other related topics subsequent articles and on the website. We wish you a healthier and happier you.

Sybil Kramer, MD

MEDICAL ADVICE DISCLAIMER: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for his or her own situation, or if her or she has any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.