More than half of the adults in Germany are overweight and nearly one quater is even obese (adipose). About 15 percent of children and adolescents are too heavy, and six percent are severly overweight. Among the overweight people especially the group of obese and morbidly obese people is growing.

Bisher nimmt der Anteil der adipsöen Menschen in Deutschland zu.
(Photo: iStock/Sadeugra)

Developments in adult population

According to the DEGS-Survey of the Robert-Koch-Institute (2008-2011) 67.1 percent of German men and 53 percent of the women are overweight with a body-mass-index (BMI) over 25 kg/sqm. Adipose (obese) with a BMI over 30 kg/sqm are 23.3 percent males and 23.9 percent females (age 18 to 91 years). In 1998 the obesity rate among men was 19 percent and of women 22.5 percent. The biggest increase among men and women has occurred in the age group of the 25 to 34 year-olds. This group of young people has grown up with computers and entertainment media. (Source:

Developments in children and youths

14.8 percent of the children and youths between the age of 2 and 17 in Germany are considered overweight. 6.1 percent of them suffer from morbid overweight, meaning they are adipose. A total of 1.7 million overweight girls and boys live in Germany and about 750,000 of them are adipose. (Source: KIGGS Children and Youths Health Survey;

The social status influences the weight

Children and youths coming from deprived families run an increased risk of overweight. Among them, there is an increased number of children from immigrant families, especially if they are coming from Turkey, Central or Southern Europe, or Poland. (Source: KIGGS Children and Youths Health Survey;

Above all the group of severly obese people is growing within the overweight population. (Photo: IFB Adipositas)

Adiposity worldwide

In the United States of America the rates of obesity are somewhat higher than in Germany: Two thirds of American adults are overweight, 36 percent of them are even obese. France and Switzerland are slightly slimmer.  About 25 percent of the population of the United Kingdom are obese.

Yet, not only Americans and Europeans are too big. Studies of 2008 showed that 1.5 billion of the world’s population is overweight or obese. Obesity rates were nearly twice as high as in 1980. By 2030, researchers at Tulane University (USA) expect 3.3 billion people to be overweight worldwide.

Among the world’s obesity-frontrunners are inter alia: the Pacific Islands, Mexico and the Gulf States; while Brazil, China, and South Africa are catching up quickly. And it is not just the rich world that is getting heavier. In many developing countries, the rate of overweight women is already higher than the rate of underweight females. Particularly striking is the connection between the growing economic strength of a country and an increasing body weight in the population. Notably children of malnourished mothers are prone to develop obesity.

Consequences of obesity

The lack of effective treatments still remains and a remedy for the overweight problem is out of sight. Therefore, secondary diseases which are due to obesity increase. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that 44 percent of the diabetes cases and about 40 percent of certain cancers are due to obesity. Thus, adiposity causes major health and financial burden for patients and society.

The "Economist" assumes that an obese person is responsible for around 40 percent higher health care costs than a normal weight one. The German Adiposity Society (DAG) calculated in 2003 about 85 million Euros direct medical costs for obesity care and 11.3 billion for obesity-associated diseases. The indirect costs, e. g. for non-productive times while staying sick at home, were 1.4 to 1.6 billion Euros.

In threshold countries diseases such as fatty liver, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure can not be adequately identified and treated. The situation there is paradox: Although the increased prosperity altered diet and lifestyle in many places, the lack of health care remains.