Overweight, Obese, Morbidly Obese: Know The Difference


Obesity is no longer considered just a result of overeating but a complex problem that involves dietary, environmental and genetic factors.Being overweight or obese are not matters of perception. There are well established guidelines that classify various stages of obesity according to Body Mass Index (BMI).


BMI is a measure of defining and classifying obesity by using the height and weight of a person with the help of this formula: Weight in kilograms divided by square of height in meters. It is expressed as kg/ m2  BMI calculators are easily available online.

Categorization according to BMI

A  BMI <18.5 is categorized as underweight, BMI between 18.5-23.5 is considered normal,  BMI between 23.5 to 27.5 is categorized as overweight,  BMI between 27.5 to 37.5 is obese and BMI > 37.5  is categorized as morbidly obese.

-It is important to understand the relevance of BMI as it is specific to each individual which means that if two people weigh the same but one is taller than the other, the person who is taller will have a lower BMI.

– BMI does not throw light on minute details i.e. it will not differentiate between weight due to fat or muscle.For example,  an athlete might have a BMI that will categorize him as obese due to high muscle mass however his body fat could be normal.

-Body composition analyzers are available for an exhaustive break up of body fat percentage, muscle mass, total body water, protein and various other components.


Weight gain and obesity are mulfiactorial, and are not merely caused due to unhealthy eating habits. here are the common causes of obesity

1 . Caloric Imbalance

There is no doubt about the fact that Calories count a lot. If you are consuming more calories than you care burning with physical activities, you are bound to put on weight.

2 . Genetic Composition

When obesity runs in the family, there is a high likelihood that it passes on in the next generation as the genetic makeup affects fat regulation.

3 . Sedentary Lifestyle

Readily available transportation and erratic work schedules leave us with hardly any time to physically work out. Moreover, calorie dense junk foods and large portion sizes add to the fat accumulation.

4 . Psychological Issues

Most people struggling with psychological issues treat food as their stress busters and resort to binge eating.

5 . Medications and Diseases

Some medications for diabetes, depression are known to cause weight gain. Anticonvulsants, steroids may also be responsible. Moreover, some diseases like hypothyroidism, Poly cystic ovarian syndrome, insulin resistance can also cause people to put on weight.


Prevention of obesity is much talked about but to be honest, it is easier said than done. Principally, one should understand that being obese is not a character flaw and there are various factors that can contribute.

The correct management approach depends on an individual’s BMI.

-If one is overweight, dietary modifications and exercise regimes help in bringing one back to a normal weight.

-However, if one is obese, one should consult an obesity expert team for some medications along with lifestyle modifications of diet and exercise.

-But, if one is morbidly obese, one must consider weight loss surgery (bariatric surgery) as a treatment option. Bariatric surgery is a surgical procedure in which the size of the stomach is reduced,thereby causing less hunger and feeling of fullness thereby achieving weight loss.

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It is best that anyone struggling with weight issues be aware of their BMI first and accordingly plans the management strategies. Watch this space for more on diet, exercise, medication tips and weight loss surgeries. Eat healthy! Stay Healthy!

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4 thoughts on “Overweight, Obese, Morbidly Obese: Know The Difference

  1. Bharat Sharma

    Good to know about the differences between being obese, overweight and moderately obesed. As per BMI calculation, I was an underweight two three years ago but now I have gained weight and my weight falls at the region where I am considered as overweight, and I am already seeing the struggle and problems associated with being overweight. Trying to lose weight and have lost 6 kgs in last six month. I know it is not much but that’s okay as I am not in a hurry. focusing on losing 5-6 kgs more and I will be at the right weight.

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