Defining Obesity

Although most people have a general understanding that being obese means being significantly overweight, the actual definition of obesity is more complex. Currently, the measure most commonly used is BMI.

BMI Range Official Designation
Under 18.5     Underweight
18.5 – 24.9     Ideal weight
25 – 29.9     Overweight
30 – 34.9     Obese
35 – 39.9     Severely Obese
40 – 49.9     Morbidly Obese
50+     Super Obese

BMI stands for Body Mass Index, and is a number that’s found by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters, squared. When patients visit our NYC offices, we help them calculate their BMI. Alternatively, you can use our BMI calculator here to easily find your own BMI.

Morbid obesity is a phrase you will hear when learning about obesity treatment options. The typical definition of morbid obesity is an adult with a BMI over 40, or a BMI over 35 if they have a related health condition. These health conditions, known as comorbidities, add to the difficulties of living with obesity. They can include high blood pressure, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, GERD, Type 2 diabetes, and osteoarthritis.

BMI Calculator

What is your height?


What is your weight?


Your BMI is

Note: A BMI of 30 – 34.9 or BMI 35 – 39.9 with no comorbidities qualify for lap band but is usually not covered by insurance.

Problems with BMI

BMI is not an ideal measure of obesity for several reasons. It does not take into account factors like muscle vs. fat, and it does not reflect the importance of different types of fat within the body.

Despite the limitations of BMI, it is the currently accepted measurement, and the one used by insurance companies when they make decisions about weight loss surgery coverage.

A more specific type of obesity you may hear about is called abdominal obesity. The amount of fat someone carries around their waist is particularly important because studies have linked this type of obesity with more serious health complications. When looking at abdominal obesity, the general standard is a woman with a waist circumference of more than 35 inches, and a man with a waist circumference of more than 40 inches. While measuring abdominal obesity does not replace BMI, it is an additional number that bariatric surgeons can consider when recommending appropriate options for obesity treatment.

Banner media

Important Obesity Facts

Learn about the facts of obesity from the nation's leaders in weight loss surgery - The New York Bariatric Group.

Obesity as a Disease

In 2013 the American Medical Association (AMA) officially recognized that obesity is a disease. This decision was met with some controversy, but indicates the importance of working to appropriately prevent and treat obesity. Health care professionals who treat obesity were generally pleased with this decision, and hoped it would lead to an increase in primary care physicians addressing obesity with the level of seriousness and compassion it deserves. In the long run, this categorization as a disease may lead to improved insurance coverage for the treatment of obesity before it leads to substantial health conditions.

New York Bariatric Group logo

Together we've got this

Treating Obesity

It is incredibly difficult to lose a substantial amount of weight with diet and exercise alone. Even when people do lose weight, the majority of the time that weight comes back. This is not reflective of a lack of willpower, but instead reflects the biological and environmental barriers to maintaining weight loss. Fortunately, much has evolved in the treatment of obesity over the last few decades. Today we have procedures such as the lap band, gastric sleeve, and gastric bypass as well as even newer devices and treatment options like the Orbera and Obalon balloons.

According to an article by the Harvard School of Public Health, “obesity diminishes almost every aspect of health, from reproductive and respiratory function to memory and mood. Obesity increases the risk of several debilitating and deadly diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.” At New York Ba