Understanding Obesity

Obesity is a disease where you have too much body fat. It can be caused by a variety of factors. Obesity may be the result of genetics, environmental factors, cultural practices and even psychological health. At University of Missouri Health Care, our compassionate weight loss experts provide complete care to address these factors and help you overcome obesity.

Genetic factors of obesity

While we don’t fully understand the biology behind obesity, genetics can be a contributing factor in weight gain. Some genetic factors that may affect your weight gain include:

  • Sex. Women are eight times more likely to experience severe obesity than men. 
  • Insulin resistance. How your body creates and uses insulin can cause you to gain weight more easily.
  • Fat deposition. Where your body stores fat is also determined by your DNA.
  • Metabolism. Some people have genetically slower metabolisms, leading to weight gain.

Non-genetic factors of obesity

In addition to genetic factors, many other aspects of your lifestyle and health can affect your body fat percentage and body mass index (BMI). 

These factors include:

  • How many calories you eat (total energy intake)
  • How many calories you use
  • How much protein, fat and carbohydrates are in your diet
  • How often you exercise
  • How physically active you are every day
  • The amount of lean muscle mass in your body

You can control and change some of these factors to help lose weight and overcome obesity.

Obesity research

New research is uncovering the exact genetic causes of severe obesity, helping physicians create more effective obesity treatments.

Research has also revealed that non-surgical weight loss treatments are not as effective at treating obesity as surgical treatments. While non-surgical treatments, like dieting, can cause temporary weight loss, weight often returns within just five years.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that if you have not had success with dieting, you should consider surgical weight loss treatment. While surgery is not necessary to cure obesity, it is an effective long-term method to control weight and improve health.

What is severe obesity?

Doctors define severe obesity in two ways, either by a high body mass index (BMI) or by how many pounds you are over your ideal calculated weight. If you have severe obesity according to either measurement, you may be a candidate for bariatric surgery.

Body Mass Index

Your BMI is a ratio of your height versus your weight. You have severe obesity if you have a BMI over 40.

Ideal Calculated Weight

Your doctor may use different methods to find your ideal calculated weight. 

Typically, you can calculate your ideal weight this way:

  • For men: Multiply six times each inch in height you are over five feet, and then add 106.
  • For women: Multiply five times each inch in height you are over five feet, and then add 100.

For instance, if you are a 5’8” man, you are eight inches over five feet. You will multiple eight by six to get 48. You will then add 48 to 106 to discover your ideal weight is 154 pounds. If you weigh 184 pounds, you have 30 pounds of excess weight.

Any amount of weight over that ideal weight is considered excess weight. According to National Institute of Health guidelines, if you have 100 pounds of excess weight, you have severe obesity.

Successful weight loss expectations

To successfully treat severe obesity, you must lose a significant amount of your excess weight, improve or cure related health conditions like diabetes and make a lifelong commitment to a healthier lifestyle.

We consider your weight loss surgery successful if you are within 40 pounds of your ideal body weight. It usually takes between 12 and 18 months after surgery to achieve this goal. More than 80 percent of weight loss surgery patients reach this goal, and many patients lose 50 to 75 percent of their excess weight.

Learn more about Bariatric Surgery Services at MU Health Care.