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Health Problems from Excess Weight

Obesity's social and economic effects can range from fewer opportunities to outright discrimination. Daily life becomes more difficult, because it can be hard to get around and stay active. Many medical conditions are related to obesity — in fact, an estimated $147 billion is spent annually on obesity-related health problems. Obesity also shortens life expectancy. And for those with morbid obesity, all of these risks increase.

Health problems related to excess weight — sometimes known as “co-morbid conditions” include:

  • Acid reflux/GERD
  • Birth defects related to maternal obesity
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Diabetes (Type 2)
  • Female reproductive health disorder
  • Heart disease, such as hardening of the arteries, heart attack and angina
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis and joint pain
  • Urinary stress incontinence

Most of these conditions develop over a period of years. Many people living with morbid obesity may have one or more of these health issues without even realizing it.

However, it's important to remember that ALL OF THESE PROBLEMS GET BETTER AS YOU LOSE WEIGHT. 

What is Obesity? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines obesity as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 to 39. Morbid obesity — also known as extreme obesity — is defined as 100 pounds or more above ideal body weight or a BMI of 40 or greater.

Causes. Genetics, environment and behavior all play a role in obesity. In our sedentary society where we have an abundant supply of food, people are eating more and doing less. The result is an excess of calories stored as fat.

Prevalence. Widely recognized as a public health issue, obesity affects nearly 34 percent of Americans ages 20 and over. Morbid obesity affects nearly 6 percent. New York is one of the less obese states in America and one of just five states where obesity levels decreased slightly over the last three years, according to a 2011 analysis of CDC data by CalorieLab, Inc. Nonetheless, in New York State, nearly a quarter of the population has a BMI of 30 or over.

Research. Progress is being made in understanding and treating obesity. And at Stony Brook, we're on the leading edge. The director of our Bariatric and Metabolic Weight Loss Center, Aurora Pryor, MD, has served as principal or co-principal investigator of several obesity-related studies focused on advances in surgery and outcomes. She co-chairs the Emerging Technologies and New Procedures Committee for the American Board of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons (ABMBS). She also is the patent holder for several surgical technologies. Clinical trial participation will be incorporated into the array of options available to bariatrics patients at Stony Brook in the near future.