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Obesity is a serious illness that can interfere with everyday life, including basic physical functions such as breathing or walking. Those who are obese are also at greater risk for health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), high blood pressure and joint pain.

Obesity is diagnosed by determining Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is defined by the ratio of an individual’s height to his or her weight.

  • Overweight: BMI is 25.0 - 29.9
  • Obese: BMI is 30.0 - 39.9
  • Severely obese: BMI is equal to or greater than 40.0 or 35.0 - 39.9 with obesity-related health conditions

Calculate Your BMI

Common Obesity Related Conditions

Obesity-related health conditions reduce life expectancy. Here are some of the more common conditions. If you would like more information, please speak with your physician.

  • Type 2 diabetes. People who are obese become resistant to insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. They end up with high blood sugar, which causes Type 2 diabetes.

  • High blood pressure/heart disease. The heart doesn't work right when the body is carrying around excess weight. So, the obese person usually gets hypertension (high blood pressure), which leads to strokes and damages the heart and kidneys.

  • Osteoarthritis of weight-bearing joints. Additional weight placed on joints—especially knees and hips—causes rapid wear and tear, along with pain and inflammation. Similarly, the strain on bones and muscles in the back leads to disk problems, pain, and decreased mobility. Learn more about osteoarthritis.

  • Sleep apnea/respiratory problems. Fat deposits in the tongue and neck can block air passages, especially in patients who sleep on their backs. This causes them to lose sleep and results in daytime drowsiness and headaches. Learn more about sleep apnea.

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (hiatal hernia and heartburn). Excess weight weakens and overloads the valve at the top of the stomach, which then allows stomach acid to escape into the esophagus. This is called gastroesophageal reflux, and "heartburn" and acid indigestion are common symptoms. Approximately 10-15% of patients with even mild heartburn develop Barrett's esophagus, which is a pre-malignant change in the lining membrane and a cause of esophageal cancer. 

  • Depression. People who are obese must deal with constant, depressing emotional challenges: failed diets, disapproval from family and friends, remarks from strangers. Plus, they often experience discrimination and cannot fit comfortably in public places. Learn more about depression.

  • Infertility. Obesity wreaks havoc with male and female hormones, disrupting normal cycles and function, and leading to difficulty or inability to conceive.  

  • Urinary stress incontinence. A large, heavy abdomen relaxes pelvic muscles, compounding the effects of childbirth. This weakens the valve on the urinary bladder, allowing leakage when coughing, sneezing, or laughing. Learn more about urinary stress incontinence.

Can you treat obesity?

With the right medical support and intervention, you can treat obesity and the health conditions related to it.