Difference Between Obesity and Morbid Obesity

Obesity is a major health crisis in the United States. More than 30 percent of adults are considered obese, according to the 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, while one in 20 of these folks have extreme obesity. Your body mass index, or BMI, determines whether you fall into either of these categories. A normal BMI is 20 to 25, while a BMI over 30 places you in the category of obese. When your BMI reaches 40 or higher, you're diagnosed as morbidly obese.

Obesity Definition and Risks

Obesity occurs when you consistently eat more calories than you burn, and it causes you to put on fat weight. This isn't always due to a lack of willpower but also habits, genetics, lifestyle and income.

In addition, you may have a condition known as abdominal obesity in which your waist size exceeds 40 inches as a man and 35 inches as a woman. This means you have excess belly fat, which is particularly inflammatory and linked to disease.

Risks associated with being obese include type-2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and triglycerides, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, arthritis, sleep apnea and some cancers. Mood disorders and early death may also accompany a diagnosis of obesity.

Morbid Obesity Complications

A BMI of 40 qualifies you as being morbidly obese, but so does being 100 pounds over what's a normal size for your height or having a BMI of 35 with serious complications, such as high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes. Morbid obesity usually compromises daily function, such as walking or breathing.

Being morbidly obese puts you at even greater risk for developing the conditions associated with carrying too much body fat, including gallstones, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, arthritis, heart disease, cancer and type-2 diabetes. In cases of morbid obesity, weight reduction is critical to prevent early death.

Treatments for Obesity and Morbid Obesity

Medical intervention is usually required to reduce weight in the morbidly obese, although obese patients sometimes also seek treatment. You may be placed on a very-low-calorie diet, which constitutes between 800 and 1,000 calories per day in the form of nutritionally designed meal replacements. Rate of weight loss on this plan is between 3 and 5 pounds per week, with an average of 44 pounds in 12 weeks. You'll be regularly monitored while on the diet and won't be kept on the plan for longer than 12 weeks because of the risk of complications due to such rapid weight loss, including gallstones.

This very-low-calorie diet may be used to prepare you for weight-loss surgery, including gastric bypass, gastric banding and the duodenal switch procedure

Obesity and Morbid Obesity in Children

More than one in six children and teens aged 6 to 19 are also obese, according to the 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Determination of obesity or morbid obesity in a teen or child depends on BMI and age-appropriate growth-rate charts.

Just like adults, obese kids can develop chronic conditions such as heart disease and some cancers. Their obese status is likely to be maintained into adulthood, and they may be afflicted with type-2 diabetes, arthritis and sleep apnea at very young ages. Obesity can severely affect the self-esteem of teens and children.

Getting children and teens up and moving and revising their diets to include less soda and processed snacks can help them gain better control of their weight.