Are You a Candidate for Weight-Loss Surgery?

Obesity is a threat to not only basic everyday functions but can also lead to serious health risks such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, osteoarthritis, cancer and more. If you or a loved one suffers from obesity, without success in addressing it by diet or exercise, weight-loss (bariatric) surgery could be a viable option for addressing this condition. However, you and your physician need to carefully consider a range of factors to ensure that you meet the standards required for weight-loss surgery.

Body Mass Index

One of the first assessments for weight-loss surgery consideration is Body Mass Index (BMI). While it is highly recommended that you work with your physician to determine your BMI, you can calculate it with the following steps:

  1. Convert your weight in pounds to kilograms.
    Take your weight in pounds and divide by 2.2 for your weight in kilograms. For example, 154 pounds divided by 2.2 equals 79 kilograms.

  2. Convert your height in inches to meters. 
    Take your height in inches and divide by 39.37 for your height in meters.
    For example, 67 inches divided by 39.37 equals 1.7 meters.

  3. Square your height in meters.
    For example, 1.7 x 1.7 equals 2.89.

  4. Divide your weight by the result in Step 3.
    For example, 79 kilograms divided by 2.89 equals 27.3—this is your BMI.

So, from these calculations, a person who is 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 154 pounds has a BMI of 27.3.

In order to be a candidate for weight-loss surgery, an individual needs to have a BMI of at least 35 or higher.  If you have a BMI of 35 to 39 you will need to have at least one of several comorbidities (more on this below).  


A comorbidity is a chronic condition or disease that is strongly linked to a primary disease. Comorbidities that often accompany obesity include:

  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Gallbladder disease
  • GERD (Acid Reflux Disease)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Infertility
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stroke or Stroke Risk

If you meet the BMI threshold and/or the comorbidity requirement in consultation with your physician, you’ve reached the basic qualifications for exploring weight-loss surgery.

Next Steps

There are several more evaluations and screenings that are necessary to determine if you are ready, both physically and emotionally, for the procedure. These will usually include your primary physician, a dietitian, a surgeon, as well as a psychologist. While weight-loss surgery can greatly enhance your overall health and lifestyle, it is still a complicated procedure that carries risks—which must be carefully evaluated against the benefits for every individual. 

In an upcoming post, we’ll take a closer look at additional factors that need to be considered as well as steps leading up to, and following, the procedure.