Obesity is in the news, on people’s minds, and on the agendas of the nation’s public health agencies. We all know that it means overweight, and that it’s an increasing problem in America. But what is the actual definition of obesity? What obesity statistics exist, and what can they tell us?
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What Is Obesity?
Obesity is generally used as a way to say “very overweight.” But what does this term really mean?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention use the body mass index (BMI) to determine whether someone is underweight, normal, overweight, or obese. BMI is calculated based on a relationship between a person’s height and weight. We have a BMI calculator here on our website that will do the math for you.
Although there is some debate among the authorities, the World Health Organization classifies “obesity” as a BMI of between 30 and 39.9, “morbid obesity” as a BMI of between 40 and 49.9, and “super obesity” as a BMI of over 50. According to the WHO definition, a 5-foot-9 person would have to weigh 271 pounds to classify as morbidly obese and 339 pounds to be super-obese. That translates to being roughly 100 pounds over one’s ideal body weight for morbid obesity — if you’re 5-foot-9, 168 pounds is the cutoff point between “normal” and “overweight.”
As a person’s weight goes above (or below) the “normal” BMI range, there begins to be a correlation to various weight-related health conditions, with corresponding degrees of risk as a person moves further away from the “normal” range. However, it should be noted that a number of other factors contribute to this risk, and that BMI itself is not a perfect measurement.
BMI or Body Fat?
BMI does not measure body fat, and it’s possible for a very muscular person with virtually no body fat to register as “obese” using BMI alone. Two people could have the same BMI, but very different levels of health, fitness and body composition. Furthermore, it is possible to have a “normal” BMI, but to still have unhealthy levels of body fat. Research performed in the last few years by the Mayo Clinic has suggested that over half of Americans with a “normal” BMI actually had body fat percentages that would make them obese - 20 percent of body weight for men and 30 percent for women.
Unfortunately, body fat measurement methods are often inconvenient, inaccurate, or expensive. The BMI is relatively easy to compute, and it is used and promoted by many agencies as a general guideline indicating whether a person should consider losing weight.
Obesity Statistics in Los Angeles
In a 2009 publication, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health states that 35.9 percent of adults living in Los Angeles County are overweight, with BMI of 25 to 29.9, and an additional 22.2 percent are obese, with BMI of 30 or higher. That means that just 41.9 percent of Los Angeles County residents are in the normal and underweight ranges while over six million Los Angeles residents are overweigh or obese. With the negative consequences of excess body fat, this statistic is troubling to many public health professionals.
Los Angeles Weight Loss Surgery for Obese Patients
For those with BMI of 30 or higher— that is, those who are about 50 pounds or more overweight — weight loss surgery is a possible solution. Marina Weight Loss has worked with hundreds of people who have sought a surgical approach to dealing with their obesity. Obesity increases the risk of serious health problems, including orthopedic problems, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and severe obesity can impair a person’s ability to perform day-to-day activities.
Located at Marina Del Rey Hospital, Marina Weight Loss offers several options with proven track records to Los Angeles residents. Please explore this site to learn more about our program. If you’d like to contact us to set up a free consultation or to ask further questions, our phone number is (310) 577-5540.
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