Germany's adiposity-organizations raise an alarm

Shortcomings in Patient Care

Press Release on occasion of European Adipsoity Day (May 17, 2014)

May 16, 2014. Germany's scientific obesity organizations bemoan the shortcommings in the health care for obese patients. In future they intend to cooperate even closer in the treatment of adiposity. The Integrated Research and Treatment Center (IFB) AdiposityDiseases of the Universität Leipzig, the German Adiposity Association (DAG) and the Competence Network Adiposity (KNA) are therefore striving for a federally consistant realization and financing of an obesity treatment accordung to the latest medical giudelines. In order to achieve this a "round table" will be necessary with representatives of health insurers, of health policy, of the medical commission, of scientists as well as with therapists from the nutritional, exercise and behavioral field.

Access to an approved obesity treatment could help many patients with severe overweight. For example Carina, who had been chubby in her childhood and who is obese today. Despite many attempts to lose weight, she was not able to reduce the numbers on the scales in the long run. "The recommendations of my doctor have helped me over some months to lose weight", says Carina, "but now my knee joints hurt when I walk, and I gain weight again." Like many obese patients Carina would need long term therpeutic support to lower her risk for further obesity related diseases such as diabetes, fatty liver, and cardio-vascular diseases. This dilemma has been known for long in the German health care system. The therapy of obesity-related diseases is being covered by health insurers, yet adiposity as the cause of these ailments is - unlike in the USA - not considered to be a real disease.

On the occasion of an adiposity workshop with some 200 participants in Berlin (April 2014) Prof. Hans Hauner of KNA underlined, that "the health care of obese patients urgently needs to be improved. Beyond a body-mass-index of 35 kg/m2 people should be entitled to receive treatment." This would be the only way to prevent serious sequelae and enormous costs. According to Prof. Matthias Blüher of the IFB AdiposityDiseases the number of bariatric operations is rising which are covered by health insurers. Yet, the indispensible follow up care for these patients cannot be accounted with health insurances. Also many treatment measures within the conservative obesity treatment are presently not covered by health insurances. Health politician Dietrich Monstadt admitted that "there are real shortcommings in patient care." As a member of the federal health commission of the German parliament he "will support improvements in this field."  Short term campaigns would not be enough, it would rather take an efforts of the society as a whole, so Mr Monstadt.

"The number of obese children and adolescents in Germany is still too high", so DAG president Prof. Martin Wabitsch. "The suffering due to stigmatization is huge and is being generally underestimated", said the pediatrician. "According to a scientific survey the life quality of an obese girl or boy is comparable to the life quality of a child with cancer. That is why treatment has to start as early as possible", so the DAG president.

There are effective therapies available, as studies could show. Recent contracts of individual hospitals with one major German health insurer (AOK Plus) in Saxony and Thuringia make clear that improvements of health care for obese patients are realizable.

Doris Gabel

Keywords: health policy, obesity treatment, society & social life


Universität Leipzig
Integrated Research and Treatment Center (IFB) AdiposityDiseases
Philipp-Rosenthal-Str. 27
04103 Leipzig, Germany
Phone.: 0049 (0) 341 / 97-15940

Dr. Stefanie Gerlach  (DAG)   
Media Spokesperson
in the Borad of German Adiposity Association
Fraunhoferstr. 5
82152 Martinsried, Germany
Mobile: 0163 / 8534731

DAG office:
Phone: 0049 (0) 89 / 710 48 358
E-Mail: pressestelle [at] adipositas-gesellschaft [dot] de

Dr. Christina Holzapfel  (KNA)
Scientific Director of
Competence Network Adiposity
Techn. University Munich
Georg-Brauchle-Ring 60/62
80992 München, Germany

Phone: 0049 (0) 89 / 28924923
E-Mail: christina [dot] holzapfel [at] tum [dot] de