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Elderly obese woman having her blood pressure measured by a doctor using a blood pressure cuff

The Penn Bariatric and Weight Loss Surgery team understands that the decision to have weight-loss surgery can be a difficult one. That's why we're committed to providing you with the information you need to make informed choices.

Obesity Definition and Criteria

The normal amount of body fat is between 25 and 30 percent in women and 18 and 23 percent in men. Women with more than 30 percent body fat and men with more than 25 percent body fat are considered obese. Morbid obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 40, which equates to approximately 100 pounds overweight for men and 80 pounds for women.

Obesity is a chronic disease that can cause a host of health problems and shorten your life. Bariatric surgery offers a way to achieve long term, sustainable weight loss and improve obesity-related medical conditions.

Obesity in America: Rates and Percentages

Here are some facts about obesity and weight loss in America.

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of U.S. adults — more than 72 million people — are obese.
  • In the United States, roughly 300,000 deaths per year are directly related to obesity, and more than 80 percent of these deaths are in patients with a BMI over 30. For patients with a BMI over 40, life expectancy is reduced by as much as 20 years for men and 5 years for women.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 percent of U.S. children are obese.

Causes of Obesity

The most common causes of obesity are overeating and physical inactivity. Other factors that can contribute to obesity include:

  • Genetics (such as leptin deficiency)
  • Slow metabolism
  • Medications
  • Psychological factors
  • Diseases (hypothyroidism, Cushing syndrome)
  • Ethnicity
  • Childhood weight

Negative Effects of Obesity

Obesity has been linked to a number of health conditions that can affect your quality of life, and in some cases, shorten it:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stroke, heart attack and congestive heart failure
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Infertility and pregnancy problems, polycystic ovary syndrome and sexual dysfunction.

Weight Loss Facts

A modest weight loss of 5 to 10 percent and long–term maintenance of that weight loss can bring significant health gains including:

  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Reduced cholesterol levels
  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Decreased chance of stroke
  • Decreased complications of heart disease
  • Decreased overall mortality

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