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What is Obesity?

Obesity: A National Epidemic

By every measure, obesity has reached epidemic proportions in America. More than one third of U.S. adults — more than 72 million people —are obese *1*, and more than 15 million people in America are morbidly obese *2*. And, these staggering numbers continue to grow at an alarming rate.

Obesity is a matter of life and death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that obesity-related illness is the second leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Obesity can take 13 to 20 years off of a person’s life by putting obese people at risk for more than 30 diseases including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Statistics aside, many individuals challenged with obesity suffer from chronic fatigue, and find it difficult to participate in their own lives — both personally and professionally. Many face serious illnesses due to their weight and recognize that their weight gain has shortened their life expectancy. And many struggle with the financial burden of increased medical costs and living expenses.


  1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  2. American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS)

How is Obesity and Morbid Obesity Actually Defined?

The term 'obesity' means to have excessive amounts of body fat. A person is considered obese if their current weight is 20% or more over their ideal body weight. If a person weighs 100 pounds or more over their ideal body weight, they are considered severely, or morbidly, obese. Morbid obesity is also characterized if a person’s weight is critically affecting their health and significantly shortening their life expectancy.

There are many advanced medical tests to determine if a person is obese or morbidly obese. However, these are costly and are often difficult to administer. One fast and accurate method to ascertain if your current weight puts you at risk for serious health issues is to determine your body mass index (BMI). BMI is a mathematical measurement of your weight in relation to your height, and is used to determine if you are underweight, at a healthy weight, overweight, obese or morbidly obese.

Where does your BMI fall within the following:

  • BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight
  • BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy
  • BMI between 25.0 and 29.9 is considered overweight

Note: BMI cannot distinguish between excess fat and muscle. The BMI of an extremely muscular person may be classified as obese when, clearly, he or she is not.