Obesity Problem: Part I

Morbidly obese...the words themselves can strike fear into anyone, but before you start to plan your own funeral, you should understand what it really means.

"Morbidly obese is defined by body mass index and it's a calculation of height versus weight. A body mass index above 40 is considered morbidly obese," said Rima Kittley, a family physician and author of "Obesity's Answer."

Taking a look at a BMI scale, you can see the difference. A person who is 6 feet tall can weigh up to 184 pounds and be average. Between that and 221 pounds, the person is considered overweight, 228 to 294 pounds is obese, and anything above that is morbidly obese.

"It gives a rough estimate of ratio of fat versus muscle," said Kittley.

Being morbidly obese doesn't mean you're going to die, does it?

"The more overweight you are, whether it's in the obese category or in the morbidly obese category, the higher your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks. All the complications of being overweight," said Kittley.

Simply put...it is a gradient of problems. The closer to being at normal weight you are, the less risk you have of having any of those problems. The higher on the scale you get, the more problems you will have. Once you hit the morbidly obese category, it doesn't mean you are going to die, it just means you have a greater chance of the problems. So when does it come to the point of doing something drastic like gastric bypass surgery? Doctor Kittley says she believes it should never come to that.

"It's a short term fix, it's starvation mode and if you want to go into starvation mode anyway, your wish go ahead...it's very hard on your body," said Kittley.

Kittley says drastic fixes like surgery and diets, such as Atkins and South Beach, are just quick fixes. She says temporary changes in your diet may work at first, but after certain foods are re-introduced, you may gain more than you lost in the first place.