Being morbidly obese is a clinical definition of certain people who are more heavy than a ‘normal’ level of obesity. Being classified as morbidly obese should be a definite wake-up call. Morbid obesity drastically reduces your life span, massively increases the chance of medical complications, and greatly reduces your quality of life.
Unfortunately, morbid obesity, much like regular obesity, is on the rise around the world. Being diagnosed as morbidly obese should be a real wake-up call to an individual to take action to fix their situation.
Morbidly Obese Definition
The most agreed-upon definition of morbid obesity is when someone weighs more than double their ‘ideal’ body weight. Another common definition of morbid obesity is a BMI of above 40.
It is important not to get too hung up on the ‘technicality’ of whether you are morbidly obese or ‘just’ normally obese. Having a BMI above 30 has serious and potentially lethal health implications in the short and long terms. It is vital that if you are significantly overweight you take immediate and prolonged action to address your weight issue. If you don’t, then your lifespan is going to be shortened, your chance of chronic illness increases, and your overall enjoyment of life will be statistically lower than yourself in the same situation as you’re in now, but weighing a more appropriate amount.
How do you become morbidly obese?
One normally reaches a stage of morbid obesity either through prolonged bad habits of eating and lack of exercise, or through a psychiatric condition which will almost definitely need professional help to address.
Bad eating habits can overload your body with fats and cause you to put on large amounts of weight in a relatively short time. In addition, once you start putting on weight you may notice this and become depressed, or begin ‘crash’ or ‘yo-yo’ dieting, where one makes a desperate attempt to lose weight rapidly, invariably fails, and then in a recurring depression puts the weight back on again.
All current, valid medical expertise and advice points away from crash dieting and suggests slow, deliberate, measured changes to diet and an increase in exercise as a way of controlling obesity. This cannot be overstated. ‘Fad’ dieting and ‘miracle’ cures found in shonky or ill-advised magazines and advertisements inevitably don’t work and leave you poorer, if not worse off than before.
Psychiatric conditions can have an impact on your health. If you are suffering from depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or other behaviour-affecting psychiatric conditions, then you may not be able to accurately assess the healthiness and appropriateness of your eating behaviour. In addition, mood stabilising prescription drugs and antidepressants can play havoc with your neurological hunger triggers, meaning you eat erratically or unwisely due to conflicting messages your brain is processing.
If you are currently receiving psychiatric or psychological treatment and are overweight, obese, or rapidly gaining weight, mention this to your health professional. Individual treatments are certainly available, but must be tailored to your particular situation in order to be effective.
Non-surgical treatments of the morbidly obese
There are many non-surgical treatments of morbidly obese individuals, and these are strongly preferred by doctors and bariatric experts across the medical world. Non-surgical intervention has a much higher chance of long-term success, is usually without significant side-effects, and the chances of medical complications are orders of magnitude lower.
- Exercise even in moderate doses will have immediate, long-lasting and measurable impacts on morbidly obese individuals. By increasing the caloric consumption of the person’s body through exercise, fat is stripped from ‘storage’ and put to use in providing energy. When someone is morbidly obese, even a small amount of exercise, committed to and done regularly, will have measurable effects over a period of at least 6 weeks.
- Diet changes will have a big impact on a morbidly obese person. Overeating can be a psychiatrically triggered condition, but is often just an ingrained habit. Simple things can make massive changes. Enforce smaller portion sizes by buying smaller plates. Cook meals high in protein and low in carbohydrates and sugars. Carry healthy, filling snacks with you – a can of tuna is excellent for avoiding cravings. Investigate and educate yourself about healthy diets.
- Support for morbidly obese individuals greatly increase the chances of long-term weight loss. Strong support is also useful for keeping weight off.
Morbid obesity surgery
Morbid obesity surgery is usually approached as a method of last resort. The performing surgeons will want to know that:
- You are at least 100 pounds above your ideal weight, controlled for height, sex and age. Because of the inherent risks in morbid obesity surgery, it is not appropriate to attempt surgery for people who are not significantly overweight.
- Full trials of conventional weight-loss options, like dieting, medications, counselling, exercise programs and psychiatric interviews have been attempted and have failed or had no effect.
- Evidence must be shown that of the weight-loss efforts attempted above, weight that was lost during the programs has been regained. In other words, if dieting and exercise have been successful to a small degree, there is an expectation that with modification, they could continue to reduce an individual’s weight rather than resorting to surgery.
- The patient must not be suffering any other chronic or debilitating disease, psychiatric affliction, or anything else that would affect the patient’s capacity to recover form the surgery. In particular, erratic eating patterns like binge eating disorder need to be addressed and completely cured before any surgery is attempted. A relapse into erratic eating patterns after morbid obesity reducing surgery could have serious health complications.
- The patient must not be suffering from serious diseases like heart or vascular disease, partial kidney disease or kidney failure, respiratory illnesses like Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome or active ulcer disease.
As you can see, this list of contraindications for surgery on the morbidly obese strongly indicates that non-surgical intervention is strongly preferred.