Overweight and obesity
Overweight denotes a condition in which body weight is above normal for a given body size. Severe overweight is referred to as obesity (WHO, 2000). In children and adolescents, obesity is associated with a higher likelihood of developing conditions such as Type 2 diabetes in adulthood (Llewellyn et al., 2016).
- About one in six children and adolescents is affected by overweight (including obesity).
- The prevalence of overweight and obesity increases during the transition from childhood to adolescence.
- Overweight (including obesity) is more common among children and adolescents in the lower education group.
By education group
In 2015, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents was 15.4% (girls: 15.3%; boys: 15.6%). During the transition from childhood to adolescence, the prevalence of overweight and obesity increases significantly, from 9.0% among 3- to 6-year-olds and 15.5% among 7- to 10-year-olds to 20.6% among 11- to 13-year-olds and 17.4% among 14- to 17-year-olds. There were no differences in the prevalence of overweight and obesity by place of residence. However, the data indicate a pronounced educational gradient: children and adolescents in the low education group are more often affected by overweight and obesity (25.8%) than their peers in the medium education group (13.9%), who, in turn, are more often affected by overweight and obesity than children and adolescents in the high education group (8.1%). Compared to 2004, the proportion of children and adolescents with overweight and obesity (15.5%) has stagnated at a high level.
In Germany, around one in six children and adolescents is affected by overweight or obesity (Schienkiewitz et al., 2018; Kurth and Schaffrath Rosario, 2007). As overweight and obesity are associated with secondary diseases such as type 2 diabetes in adulthood, early preventive measures are necessary to prevent the development of overweight and obesity at a young age (AGA and DAG, 2019).
Show more information on methodology and data sources
In Germany, overweight and obesity are defined using the Kromeyer-Hauschild percentile curves. As such, children aged 2 or above are classified as overweight or obese if their body mass index (BMI) is above the 90th or 97th percentile of the reference population, taking age and sex into account (Kromeyer-Hauschild et al., 2001; Kromeyer-Hauschild et al., 2015).
BMI was calculated using the measurements of body weight and height taken from the examination of the participating children and adolescents. BMI is calculated as body weight (kg) divided by height squared (m²).
Children and adolescents with permanent residency in Germany, aged 2-17 years.
Nationwide RKI interview and examination surveys 2003-2006 (KiGGS baseline study) and 2014-2017 (KiGGS Wave 2). These surveys are based on a sample taken from registry offices, and involved a medical interview (parental interview) and examination.
Number of cases
- KiGGS baseline study: n = 17,641
- KiGGS Wave 2 (cross-sectional survey): n = 15,023 (of which 3,567 with examination)
- Description: For the indicator, the figures for total, girls and boys are provided and stratified by age group, residential area and parental 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 of the parents 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) and parental education as at 31 December 2015.
The RKI surveys for children and adolescents provide representative results for the 0 to 17-year-old resident population in Germany. Various measures (including oversampling of children and adolescents without German citizenship), enabled migrants to be included in the KiGGS sample approximately in line with their proportion of the population. Nevertheless, further efforts are necessary in the future, especially for children and adolescents with little knowledge of German.