The Effects of Obesity on the Cardiopulmonary System: Implications for Critical Care Nursing

Kim Garrett, RN, MS, CNP; Kathy Lauer, RN, PhD; Beth-Anne Christopher, RN, MS


Prog Cardiovasc Nurs. 2004;19(4) 

In This Article

Definition of the Problem

Obesity refers specifically to having an abnormally high proportion of body fat or adipose tissue in relation to lean muscle mass. The most common method used to assess obesity and being overweight is the body mass index (BMI).[1,4,5] BMI is a simple, rapid, and inexpensive method that can be applied generally to adults; it is non-gender-specific and significantly correlated with total body fat as well as morbidity and mortality.[1] BMI predicts the development of health problems related to excess weight.

BMI is a mathematical calculation based on weight and height. An individual's body weight in kilograms is divided by the square of height in meters. The 1998 report by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)[1] identified the following weight classification systems based on BMI: <18.5=underweight; 18.5-24.9=normal; 25−29.9=overweight; 30−34.9=obesity (Class I); 35−39.9=obesity (Class II); and >40=morbid obesity.


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