Morbid Obesity: Your Ticket to an Early Grave

Morbid Obesity: Your Ticket to an Early Grave

Fat acceptance is all the rage. For the most part, I am completely on board with loving yourself as-is. Self-love is the key to happiness and success in life. No one doubts this. No one disputes this.


Obesity kills.

Related: Childhood Obesity Causes and How We Can End It

We can both love ourselves and still live in reality. I want to see everyone happy. Life is hard, and happiness is in short supply. With that said, telling the morbidly obese that they're going to die young doesn't come cruel form of fat shaming.

It's reality. Tough. Love. Reality.

If you are morbidly obese I hope that you do find a way to love yourself. But I also hope that you understand the reality of your situation. The human body is not designed to sustain an exceptional amount of weight. Bodily systems eventually break down. Ultimately, they give up. The burden is too much.

Mortality statistics back this statement up. We'll get into them shortly. Before we do, I would like to tell my story.

A photo posted by Steve Shaw (@bendthebarman) on

My Obesity Story

Morbid obesity. From Merriam Webster:

Morbid. Of, relating to, or characteristic of disease. Affected with or induced by disease. Abnormally susceptible to or characterized by gloomy or unwholesome feelings.Grisly, gruesome.

Obesity. A condition characterized by the excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body.

Four years ago I was one of the strongest over-40 men on the planet. I was also morbidly obese and near death. 346 pounds, type 2 diabetes, and a malfunctioning liver.

My fatty liver disease was so bad that it could not properly process minerals. Every muscle in my body cramped at the slightest movement. I was in trouble. The heart is a muscle. If I didn't get my act together it would cramp next.

A heart attack was imminent.

At 5'10" tall my BMI (body mass index) was 50. Five. Zero. The BIG five-zero. 40 is considered a morbidly obese BMI. 50 is considered a super obese BMI. I wasn't just morbidly obese... I was super obese. Like a very sick superhero. Superfast Man!

I was death walking. Even if diabetes, fatty liver disease and/or a heart attack didn't take me, something would have. And soon. It's bad enough being morbidly obese, but to be super obese I was simply a breathing corpse. A fat time bomb waiting to keel over.

How did I manage to get this huge? Well, it's a long story. I'll spare you the finer details. Let's just say it was a combination of an unsatisfying relationship and a coping mechanism that involved binge eating.

After I exited the US Army in 1994 I was a svelte 172 pounds. No more running for me. 14 years was enough. I found a sweet gal, settled down, had 2.0 kids, and started to stress eat.

Soon I hit 250 pounds. Then 274. Finally 308. I held this massive weight for many years. Finally, around 2012, my weight reached it's heaviest. 346 pounds.

I could barely walk to the mailbox. To be quite honest, I could barely wipe myself after using the bathroom. This is the reality of being morbidly obese.

I wasn't sleeping properly. I wasn't eating healthy. Then diabetes stepped in and reminded me that I was not superhuman after all. I was one step from the grave. Something had to change.

So I changed.

I didn't just jump into a "diet." I completely changed my lifestyle. My daily intake now consisted of only clean foods. No junk food. This type of trash-eating was dead to me.

Not a single calorie was counted. By making better food choices the weight fell off. I hit 276 pounds within months. 70 pounds off of my frame without even trying. A new man was born.

Are You Morbidly Obese?

Before we look at the grim reality of what it means to be morbidly obese, let's find out where we fall.

The body mass index, or BMI, analyzes our weight compared to our height. Based on this ratio, the following obesity standards are used:
  • Underweight = <18.5
  • Normal weight = 18.5 to 24
  • Overweight = 25 to 29
  • Obesity = 30 to 34
  • Severely Obese = 35 to 39
  • Morbidly Obese = 40 to 49
  • Super Obese = 50 and greater
Based on height, you are morbidly obese if your weight exceeds the following:
Height Normal Weight Obese Morbidly Obese Super Obese
 5'  97 to 128  153+  204+  255+
 5'1"  100 to 132  158+  211+  264+
 5'2"  104 to 136  164+  218+  273+
 5'3"  107 to 141  169+  225+  282+
 5'4"  110 to 145  174+  232+  291+
 5'5"  114 to 150  180+  240+  300+
 5'6"  118 to 155  186+  247+  309+
 5'7"  121 to 159  191+  255+  319+
 5'8"  125 to 164  197+  262+  328+
 5'9"  128 to 169  203+  270+  338+
 5'10"  132 to 174  209+  278+  348+
 5'11"  136 to 179  215+  286+  358+
 6'  140 to 184  221+  294+  368+
 6'1"  144 to 189  227+  302+  378+
 6'2"  148 to 194  233+  311+  389+
 6'3"  152 to 200  240+  319+  399+
 6'4"  156 to 205  246+  328+  410+

Morbid Obesity Reality - Some Statistics

Back to the grim reality of being obese. Morbidly obese. Here are statistics and facts.
  • Men who are obese at the age of 20 lose an average of 20 years off their lives. [1]
  • Women who are obese at the age of 20 lose an average of 8 years of their lives. [1]
  • When it comes to longevity, one study found that being obese is worse than smoking. Smokers live longer. [1] A second study found that smokers and overweight individuals face about the same mortality rates. [2] Either way, your life is shortened.
  • 6% of adults have a BMI over 40, making them morbidly obese. [2]
  • Those that are extremely obese are more likely to face an early death cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. [2] Very heavy men face a substantial increase in the likelihood of early death from diabetes or heart disease.
  • An extended study on mortality and obesity found that severe obesity will reduce your lifespan by about 10 years. [3]
  • A study by the NIH found that morbid obesity may shorten your life by up to 14 years. [4]
A meta-analysis of 57 longevity studies revealed the obvious: As your BMI index goes up your survival rate decreases. [5]

Graph Kaplan-Meier age versus survival curves for people of various body mass index (BMI) classes, based on data for 900,000 Western Europeans and North American adults. From The Lancet, Volume 373, Issue 9669, 28 March 3 April 2009, Pages 10831096.

Exploring this graph, we find that if your BMI is in a range of 22.5 to 25 then 23% of your peers have passed away by the age of 70. If you are morbidly obese, 51% of your peers have passed away by the age of 70.

1. "Obesity Cuts Life Span Dramatically, Studies Find." The Globe and Mail. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.
2. "Extreme Obesity Cuts Average Life Span Extremely - LA Times." N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.
3. "Moderate Obesity Takes Years Off Life Expectancy." ScienceDaily. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.
4. "NIH Study Finds Extreme Obesity May Shorten Life Expectancy Up to 14 Years." National Institutes of Health (NIH). N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.
5. "Body-mass index and cause-specific mortality in 900000 adults: collaborative analyses of 57 prospective studies" (The Lancet, Volume 373, Issue 9669, 28 March 3 April 2009, Pages 10831096).
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