Obesity is a disease of excess body fat. The term “super-obesity” refers to extremely overweight individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 50-60. Super obesity used to be called “malignant” obesity. Patients with BMI > 60 are classified as super-super obese.
Typically, the actual weight of super-obese patients exceeds their estimated ideal weight by about 225 percent, or approximately 200+ pounds overweight. In comparison, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) advises that an increase in 20 percent or more above “ideal body weight” is the point at which weight-related health dangers appear. Patients with this condition incur much greater weight-related health risks, including an increased risk of dying – estimated at 5-10 times greater than that of people of normal weight – as well as arthritis, breathing problems, cancer, depression, diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux, heart disease, hypertension, infertility, loss of bowel/urinary control, menstrual problems, obstructive sleep apnea, swollen legs, and venous disorders.
Prevalence of Super-Obesity
There are no exact statistics on the incidence or prevalence of these types of extreme obesity, although roughly 6 million American adults are morbidly obese (BMI > 40). (Source: US Census 2000; NHANES III data estimates). If you are a doctor, please see Help For Obese Patients
Management of Super-Obesity
Patients suffering from this disease find weight control extremely challenging. Many turn to bariatric surgical treatment, which typically results in a 50 percent (or greater) reduction of excess weight – enough to prevent the more serious medical complications from extreme obesity. However, not all super-obese candidates qualify for gastric reduction surgery. In addition, the long term weight loss consequences of bariatric operations such as gastric bypass are unclear. What is clear, is that without a consistent support program to back up first-line therapies for obesity (eg. liquid diets, medication, exercise and lifestyle counseling), weight reduction is rarely sustainable.
For an explanation of how surplus calories (from proteins, fats and carbohydrate) are stored as body fat, please see: Body Fat/Adipose Tissue – Why We Gain Fat
More Information About Managing Extreme Obesity
For more facts and advice about how to manage weight if you are super-obese.