Information about Morbid
What is Morbid Obesity?
Obesity is a disease that
affects nearly one-third of
the adult American
population (approximately 60
million). The number of
overweight and obese
Americans has continued to
increase since 1960, a trend
that is not slowing down.
Today, 64.5 percent of adult
Americans (about 127
million) are categorized as
being overweight or obese.
Each year, obesity causes at
least 300,000 excess deaths
in the U.S., and healthcare
costs of American adults
with obesity amount to
approximately $100 billion.
Causes of Morbid
results from consuming more calories than the
body uses. Genetic and environmental factors
influence body weight, but precisely how they
interact to determine a person's weight is still
unclear. One proposed explanation is that body
weight is regulated around a set point, similar
to a thermostat setting. A higher-than-normal
set point may explain why some people are obese
and why losing weight and maintaining weight
loss are difficult for them.
Genetic Factors: Recent research suggests that
on the average, the genetic influence
contributes to about 33 percent of body weight,
but the contribution may be more or less in a
Socioeconomic Factors: Such factors strongly
influence obesity, especially among women. In
the United States, obesity is more than twice as
common among women in lower socioeconomic groups
as among women in higher ones. Why socioeconomic
factors have such a strong influence on women's
weight is not fully understood, but sanctions
against obesity do increase with increasing
social status. Women in higher socioeconomic
groups have more time and resources for the
dieting and exercise that enable them to conform
to these social demands.
Psychological Factors: Emotional disturbances, once
considered an important cause of obesity, are
now considered a reaction to the strong
prejudice and discrimination against obese
people. One type of emotional disturbance, a
negative body image, is a serious problem for
many young obese women. It leads to extreme
self-consciousness and discomfort in social
the second leading cause of unnecessary deaths.
Despite its toll taken
in death and disability, obesity does not
receive the attention it deserves from
government, the health care profession or
the insurance industry.
Research is severely limited by a
shortage of funds.
Inadequate insurance coverage limits
access to treatment.
mistreatment of persons with obesity is
widespread and often considered socially
Obesity and Children
Today's youth are considered the most inactive
generation in history caused in part by
reductions in school physical education programs
and unavailable or unsafe community recreational
Many adverse health effects associated with
overweight are observed in children and
adolescents. Being overweight during childhood and
particularly adolescence is related to increased
morbidity and mortality in later life.
percentage of children and adolescents who are
overweight and obese is now higher than ever
before. Poor dietary habits and inactivity are
reported to contribute to the increase of
obesity in youth.
of Morbid Obesity in Children
There are many factors that contribute to
causing child and adolescent obesity - some are
modifiable and others are not.
Modifiable causes include:
Physical Activity - Lack of
Sedentary behavior - High
frequency of television viewing, computer
usage, and similar behavior that takes up
time that can be used for physical
Socioeconomic Status - Low
family incomes and non-working parents.
Eating Habits -
Over-consumption of high-calorie foods.
Some eating patterns that have been
associated with this behavior are eating
when not hungry, eating while watching TV
or doing homework.
Environment - Some factors are
over-exposure to advertising of foods that
promote high-calorie foods and lack of
Prevention of Morbid Obesity in Children
Teaching healthy behaviors at a young age is
important since change becomes more difficult
with age. Behaviors involving physical activity
and nutrition are the cornerstone of preventing
obesity in children and adolescents. Families
and schools are the two most critical links in
providing the foundation for those behaviors.
Families coping with Morbid
Obesity in Children
Parents are the most important role models for
children. Results from an American Obesity
Association survey show that:
The majority of parents in
the U.S. (78 percent) believe that physical
education or recess should not be reduced
or replaced with academic classes.
Almost 30 percent of
parents said that they are "somewhat" or
"very" concerned about their children's
12 percent of parents
considered their child overweight.
Comparing their own
childhood health habits to their
children's, 27 percent of parents said
their children eat less nutritiously, and
24 percent said their children are less
35 percent of parents rated
their children's school programs for
teaching good patterns of eating and
physical activity to prevent obesity as
"poor," "non-existent," or "don't know."
Among six choices of what
they believed to be the greatest risk to
their children's long-term health and
quality of life, 5.6 percent of parents
chose "being overweight or obese." More
parents selected other choices as the
greatest risk: alcohol (6.1 percent),
sexually transmitted disease (10 percent),
smoking (13.3 percent), violence (20.3
percent), and illegal drugs (24 percent).
In terms of their own
behavior, 61 percent of parents said that
it would be either "not very difficult" or
"not at all difficult" to change their
eating and/or physical activity patterns if
it would help prevent obesity in any of
Create an Active Environment:
Make time for the entire
family to participate in regular physical
activities that everyone enjoys. Try
walking, bicycling or rollerblading.
Plan special active
family-outings such as a hiking or ski
Start an active
neighborhood program. Join together with
other families for group activities like
touch-football, basketball, tag or
Assign active chores to
every family member such as vacuuming,
washing the car or mowing the lawn. Rotate
the schedule of chores to avoid boredom
Enroll your child in a
structured activity that he or she enjoys,
such as tennis, gymnastics, martial arts,
Instill an interest in your
child to try a new sport by joining a team
at school or in your community.
Limit the amount of TV
Create a Healthy Eating Environment:
Implement the same healthy
diet (rich in fruits, vegetables and
grains) for your entire family, not just
for select individuals.
Plan times when you prepare
foods together. Children enjoy
participating and can learn about healthy
cooking and food preparation.
Eat meals together at the
dinner table at regular times.
Avoid rushing to finish
meals. Eating too quickly does not allow
enough time to digest and to feel a sense
Avoid other activities
during mealtimes such as watching TV.
Avoid foods that are high
in calories, fat or sugar.
Have snack foods available
that are low-calorie and nutritious. Fruit,
vegetables and yogurt are some examples.
Avoid serving portions that
are too large.
Avoid forcing your child to
eat if he/she is not hungry. If your child
shows atypical signs of not eating, consult
a healthcare professional.
Limit the frequency of
fast-food eating to no more than once per
Avoid using food as a
reward or the lack of food as punishment.
Health Risks, Diagnosis and
Determining if a child or
adolescent has a weight problem can be
challenging. How do you know if the excess
weight your child has is part of the natural
growth process, and will your child just "grow
out of?" How do you know if your child's weight
may be negatively affecting his or her health?
Health Risks of Morbid Obesity
Along with the rise in childhood
obesity, there has been an increase in the
incidence and prevalence of medical conditions
in children and adolescents that had been rare
in the past. Pediatricians and childhood obesity
researchers are reporting more frequent cases of
obesity-related diseases such as type 2
diabetes, asthma and hypertension that once were
considered adult conditions.