Morbid Obesity

The term morbid Obesity refers to patients who are 50-100% or 100 pounds above their ideal body weight. Alternatively, a body mass index (BMI) value greater than 39 may be used to diagnose morbid Obesity.


Medical problems commonly resulting from untreated morbid Obesity include the following:

  • Diabetes  
  • hypertension  
  • Heart disease  
  • Stroke  
  • Certain cancers, including breast and colon  
  • Depression  
  • Osteoarthritis

Affected people may gradually develop hypoxemia (decreased blood oxygen saturation) and have problems with sleep apnea (periodic cessation of breathing while asleep).

Decreased blood oxygen and problems associated with sleep apnea may result in feeling drowsy through the day (somnolence), High blood pressure, and Pulmonary hypertension. In extreme cases, especially when medical treatment is not sought, this can lead to right-sided heart failure (cor pulmonale), and ultimately death.

Common Causes  

Home Care 
A combination of calorie restriction and exercise (when adhered to) appears to be more effective rather than either one alone. Sticking to a weight reduction program is difficult and requires much support from family members and friends.

Call your health care provider if 
Contact your health care provider if you or your child appear to be excessively obese or are gaining weight at an extremely rapid rate. Remember that catching the problem early is much simpler than trying to fix it after the person has gained an excessive amount of weight.

What to expect at your health care provider’s office  
The medical history will be obtained and a physical examination performed. A dietary and exercise regimen may also be prescribed.

Medical history questions documenting morbid Obesity in detail may include:

  • Family history       o Were any other family members excessively heavy?       o Was a disorder diagnosed as a cause of Obesity in any other family member?  
  • Dietary history (complete history of eating habits as well as types and amounts of food eaten)  
  • Other symptoms       o Is there difficulty breathing?       o Does the person wake up often at night?       o Does the person appear tired or sleepy during the daytime?

Physical examination:
A thorough physical examination will be done to determine if there is any medical cause for the Obesity. Height and weight will be plotted on a chart to help determine the degree of Obesity.

Body fat content can be determined by special studies. Your health care provider may want to obtain tests for thyroid disorders.

After seeing your health care provider:
You should try your best to adhere to the diet and exercise regimen provided.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 6, 2012
by Dave R. Roger, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.