What Is Obesity?

Obese woman in the pool

Obesity is a chronic health condition defined by an excess accumulation of body fat. A certain amount of body fat is necessary for storing energy, heat insulation, shock absorption, and other functions. When fat stores exceed the body's skeletal and physical standards the person is at increased risk for co-morbid conditions. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 20 percent or more above ideal body weight is the point at which excess weight becomes a health risk. Today 97 million Americans, more than one-third of the adult population, are overweight or obese. An estimated 5 to 10 million of those are considered morbidly obese.

Morbid Obesity

Obesity becomes "morbid" when it reaches the point of significantly increasing the risk of one or more obesity-related health conditions or serious diseases (also known as co-morbidities) that can result either in significant physical disability or even death.