published Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Ask a Doctor

Readers: To submit an obesity-related question for a medical doctor, e-mail it to Clint Cooper at See this space each week for answers, or go online to

Q: My physician told me I am obese and must lose weight. I thought my weight was simply a cosmetic problem. What exactly does obese mean, and what medical problems might I face?

A: Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30, which for most people means they are at least 30 pounds overweight. A healthy BMI is less than or equal to 24. Individuals with a BMI of 25-30 are considered overweight, and those with a BMI greater than 30 are considered obese. The risks of obesity include commonly known diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and heart disease. Obesity also raises the risk of many cancers (breast, uterine, ovarian and colon cancers in women; prostate and colon cancers in men), sudden death, arthritis, sleep apnea and depression.

— Dr. Jessica G. Scotchie, Tennessee Center for Medical Weight Loss; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

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