Obesity Facts


Don't feel as if you are alone in your struggle to lose weight. About 134 million American adults are overweight. Over 64 million are obese, over 15 million are morbidly obese and 50,000 adults are super obese. While you may have tried ordinary weight loss methods — diets, pills and exercise — statistics show that none of these methods are truly effective.

Super obese: A person with BMI of 50 or more

Morbidly obese: A person with BMI of 40 or more, or a BMI of 35 or more with an obesity-related disease, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease or sleep apnea

Obese: A person with BMI of 30 – 39.9

Overweight: A person with BMI of 25 – 29.9

For Your Health

Obesity is associated with 112,000 excess deaths due to cardiovascular disease, over 15,000 excess deaths due to cancer, and over 35,000 excess deaths due to non-cancer/non-cardiovascular disease causes per year in the U.S. population. Obese individuals have a 10-50% increased risk of death compared to individuals of a healthy weight. 

Obesity often creates physical and emotional difficulties that make it practically impossible to participate in family, recreational, or even work-related activities. And over time, your obesity puts you at increased risk of developing serious health problems like diabetes, heart disease and degenerative joint disease. 

But we've found the common reason our patients give for coming to the Comprehensive Bariatric Center at Providence is that they want to enjoy an active, healthy life with their family and friends. At the Comprehensive Bariatric Center at Providence, we're changing lives by offering hope for a new life and restored health.

Health Risks

  • Obesity is a known risk factor for chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and some forms of cancer.
  • Nearly 70 percent of cardiovascular disease cases related to obesity.
  • Obesity more than doubles one's chances of developing high blood pressure.
  • High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels or high blood sugar levels are all warning signs of some obesity-associated diseases.
  • People with close relatives who have had heart disease or diabetes are more likely to develop heart disease and/or diabetes if they are obese.
  • Nearly 80 percent of patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus are obese.
  • The incidence of symptomatic gallstones soars as a person's body mass index (BMI) goes beyond 29. The BMI is found by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared.
  • Nearly 70 percent of diagnosed cases of cardiovascular disease are related to obesity.
  • Obesity more than doubles one's chances of developing high blood pressure.
  • Almost half of breast cancer cases are diagnosed among obese women; an estimated 42 percent of colon cancer cases are diagnosed among obese individuals.

Source: The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, a branch of NIH

Causes of Obesity

Genetic, environmental, psychological and other factors all may play a role in obesity, which occurs when a person's calorie intake exceeds the amount of energy he or she burns.

Genetic factors
Obesity tends to run in families, but since family members share diet and lifestyle habits as well as genes, identifying genetics as the sole cause may be difficult. Many people genetically predisposed to obesity do not become obese or manage to lose the weight and keep it off.

Environmental factors
Environmental factors include lifestyle behaviors, such as diet and activity levels.

Psychological factors
Many people eat in response to negative emotions, such as boredom, sadness or anger. Most overweight people have no more psychological disturbance than normal weight people, but about 30 percent of people seeking treatment for serious weight problems have trouble with binge eating. Binge eaters consume large amounts of food while feeling they can't control how much they are eating. 

Other causes
Some illnesses, including hypothyroidism, Cushing's syndrome, depression and certain neurological problems can lead to overeating. Certain drugs, such as steroids and some antidepressants, may cause excessive weight gain. A doctor can make the diagnosis in these cases, which are believed to be responsible for only about one percent of all obesity cases. 

Source: The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

What About Diets?

Obesity is not a problem of willpower. Severely overweight people are often made to feel like their problem is self-control. Medical studies reveal that the causes of obesity are far more complex than a simple struggle of willpower. Genetic, environmental, psychological, and other factors all play a part. Now medical experts recognize obesity as a chronic disorder.

The National Institutes of Health have shown that diet programs, individual or commercial, medically supervised or not, have a greater than 95% failure rate in the long run. It's no surprise that the majority of our patients have tried countless weight loss strategies — diet pills, nutrition programs, exercise regimens, dietary supplements, meal replacements, high-protein diets, low-carbohydrate diets, prescription diet aids, hypnosis and more, all to no avail.