What is Morbid Obesity

The term morbid obesity – also called “clinically severe” or “class-3” obesity – is a disease of excess body fat (adipose tissue) which can adversely affect general health, mobility and quality of life. Patients with morbid obesity have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40, and are typically about 100 pounds overweight. Six million American adults are morbidly obese (BMI 40+), while another 9.6 million have a BMI of 35-40. (Source: US Census 2000; NHANES III data estimates)

Health Risks

Morbid obesity is a significant risk factor for hypertension, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, diabetes, respiratory problems and musculoskeletal disorders.


The causes of severe clinical obesity remain complex and varied, and typically include factors such as family genetic history, lifestyle and eating habits in childhood and adolescence, as well as medication usage, calorie-intake, mood/depression and degree of physical activity.

See also: Body Fat/Adipose Tissue – Why We Gain Fat


Treatment for morbid obesity usually includes a combination of liquid or very-low-calorie diets, weight loss medications and exercise counselling. Patients suffering from significant co-morbid conditions may also qualify for bariatric weight loss surgery such as gastric banding or stomach bypass.


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