What are the Different Types of Obesity?

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  • Written By: Kelly Ferguson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 27 December 2019
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There are several standardized types of obesity that have been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO), ranging from class I to class III, but have since been subdivided by other organizations into categories such as “mild obesity” and “super obesity” to provide a frame of reference. Since the WHO’s standards do not extend to these broken down categories, the exact body mass index (BMI) qualifications for each category may vary by as much as five points depending on the source. They can still, however, provide useful insight into the severity of each of the types of obesity.

The types of obesity set by the WHO were classified based on BMI, a method that measures whether a person’s weight is appropriate for his or her height by taking the person’s weight in kilograms and dividing by the square of his or her height in meters. It is important to note that, while BMI is significantly correlated with the amount of body fat a person has, it does not take into account body type, and may not perfectly reflect a person’s health risks in certain circumstances. For instance, a heavily muscled, fit individual may have a BMI that is considered obese even without an excess of body fat.


A normal BMI falls in the range of 18.5 to 24.99. People who have BMIs of 25 to 29.99 are considered overweight, or “pre-obese.” While this is not technically obesity, individuals in this category should exercise caution and try to prevent any further weight gain, as this stage is associated with the beginnings of obesity-related illnesses. For some people, an underlying illness may be causing the excess weight. It is important to obtain a diagnosis and treatment for such illnesses in this stage before they cause the individual to progress into full obesity.

Class I is the first and lowest of the true types of obesity. Individuals with a BMI between 30 and 34.99 would fall into this category. Class II includes BMIs of 35 to 39.99. Class III, or a BMI of over 40, includes the sub-categories of severe, morbid, and super obesity, in order of increasing severity.

Though even mild obesity presents considerable health risks, class III has the highest incidence of health problems related to obesity. The excess body fat and the sedentary lifestyle that often accompanies it can lead to a number of diseases including hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Very obese individuals are also at a higher risk for sleep apnea, liver disease, and some types of cancer.


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Post 4

@Oasis11 - Hang in there. Losing weight takes time. I wanted to say that I was watching a program the other day that dealt with morbidly obese patients.

Many of these patients developed their weight problem as children and it got progressively worse as they got older. These patients were admitted to Brookhaven Hospital and they usually went through comprehensive treatment that offered psychological therapy for individual and group settings as well as nutritional counseling.

These patients were in for gastric bypass surgery and for most of them this is really their last option to get better. Most of these patients have lost their mobility due to their obesity. It is really wonderful how they helped these patients and gave them new hope for their future.

Post 3

I wanted to say that many people that are obese are really at high risk of developing diabetes and cancer. As a matter of fact, I read that women that are obese are nine times more likely to develop uterine cancer than their thinner counterparts.

I also know that obesity can interfere with fertility too. I think that despite these problems it is really hard to lose weight when you are obese because when you think about the weight that you need to lose it just seems so overwhelming. I can understand the struggle because I have a lot of weight to lose too and it is a daily struggle. I try to take it one day at a time and not think too far into the future.

Post 2

@Moldova - I agree but I think that some people are more prone to obesity than others. There are some people because of genetics that put on weight easily. My sister for example, has a hypothyroid and she found out about this because she had been dieting and could not lose any weight.

The doctor told her that her hormone levels were out of whack and she would need medication to regulate her thyroid. He also suggested daily exercise and told her to avoid sugary foods. He added that these foods slow the metabolism and make it harder to lose weight.

She was able to lose about thirty pounds but she has to watch every bite she puts in her mouth. In her case, the problem is genetic.

Post 1

Wow I didn’t know that there were so many levels of obesity. I think that obesity is a growing problem because people don’t exercise as much as they used to. Everything is automated for convenience. You have drive through for everything and valet parking is even cropping up in many malls.

People don’t even have to leave their house to shop they can do shopping via the internet or through shopping networks on television. I also think that people are working a lot more hours and are not making exercise a priority.

You also have a lot of foods out there with Trans fat and preservatives that people have been eating for years that probably also contribute to this problem. A lot of these foods are addictive but don’t have any fiber which makes it easy to overeat.

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