GSB 7.1 Standardlösung

Overweight and obesity

Overweight describes a condition in which the weight of a given body is higher than normal relative to its height. Severe overweight is termed obesity. Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for the development of non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes (WHO, 2000).

Key messages

  • Nearly one-quarter of all 18- to 79-year-olds is obese.
  • Men and women in the low-education group are twice as likely to be obese as those in the high-education group.

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By state


  • By gender


  • By age


  • By education group



In 2010, the prevalence of overweight (including obesity) for the 18- to 79-year-old population was 60.0% (women 53.0%; men 67.1%), while 23.6% of adults (women 23.9%; men 23.3%) were obese. There are twice as many obese people in the low-education group as in the high-education group. When compared with 1998, the prevalence of overweight (including obesity) remained stable for both sexes, while the prevalence of obesity among men increased.


Nearly one-quarter of 18- to 79-year-olds living in Germany is obese. It is vital to prevent any increase in the prevalence of obesity by expanding appropriate measures as per the WHO’s Global Action Plan objectives (WHO, 2013) and the German government’s 2016 sustainable development strategy.

Show more information on methodology and data sources


The indicator overweight is defined according to the WHO (WHO, 2000) classification scheme as the proportion of persons in the population with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of ≥ 25.0 kg/m², and the indicator Obesity is defined accordingly as the proportion of persons in the population with a BMI of ≥ 30.0 kg/m².


BMI was calculated using the measurements of body weight and height taken from examinations. BMI is defined as body weight (kg) divided by body height squared (m²).

Reference population

Resident population in Germany, aged 18 to 79 years 

Data source

Nationwide RKI interview and examination surveys 1997-1999 (GNHIES98) and 2008-2011 (DEGS1) based on a population registry sample and self-completed questionnaire, medical interview, automated medicine registration and examination.

Number of cases

  • GNHIES98: n = 7,124
  • DEGS1: n = 7,115 (of which n = 2,923 had also participated in GNHIES98)


  • Description: For the indicator, the figures for total, women and men are provided and are stratified by age group, residential area and education as far as the number of cases available for the figure is ≥ 5 and the statistical uncertainty in the estimate of the indicator is not considered too large (a coefficient variation ≤ 33.5%).
  • Stratification: The geographical classification of the residence of the participating person was carried out by region (north-east, north-west, middle-east, middle-west and south). Educational status was determined using the CASMIN index, which takes information on both school and vocational training into account and allows a categorisation into a low, medium and high education group.
  • Weighting: In order to correct for deviations from the underlying reference population due to different participation rates or sampling probabilities, weighting factors were used when calculating the indicator. These adjust the surveys to the population structure of the reference population with regard to sex, age, federal state, German citizenship (yes / no), community type and education as of 31 December 1997 (GNHIES98) and 31 December 2010 (DEGS1). In DEGS1, the different participation probability of re-participants from GNHIES98 was also taken into account in the weighting.
  • Age standardization: Age standardization and trend weighting was carried out by calculating the weighting factor in GNHIES98 using the age, sex and federal state structure of the reference population as of 31 December 2010.

Data quality

RKI interview and examination surveys provide representative results for the 18- to 79-year-old resident population of Germany. The population aged 80 years and over will only be included in future survey waves. As is the case in all population-based studies, underrepresentation of the seriously ill and those living in institutions must be assumed.

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