Sustainable development in Germany - 17 Goals to Transform our World

Health and nutrition – Living healthy longer

Indicator 3.1.e: Obesity rates among children and adolescents



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This overview includes additional information on the indicators presented above, such as a brief definition of the indicator and a description of the politically determined target value, as well as the political intention for selecting the indicator.

Definition of indicators (Taken from the official translation of the German Sustainable Development Strategy)

The indicator shows the proportion of 3 to 10-year-olds and of 11 to 17-year-olds affected by obesity.

Target and intention of the German Government (Taken from the official translation of the German Sustainable Development Strategy)

Obesity among children and adolescents hampers age-appropriate development in those age groups. Exclusion and social withdrawal are the consequences, leading in turn to additional health as well as social problems. A high percentage of the children and adolescents who are already obese will continue to suffer from obesity as adults. For this reason, the proportion of obese children and adolescents in Germany should not increase any further.

Data state

The data published in the indicator report 2021 is as of 31.12.2020. The data shown on the DNS-Online-Platform is updated regularly, so that more current data may be available online than published in the indicator report 2021.

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Last modification of code (text) 2021-09-09: see changes on GitHub opens in a new window

Taken from the official translation of the German Sustainable Development Strategy

The body mass index (BMI) is a benchmark that is used to identify excess weight and especially obesity. It is calculated by dividing the body weight in kilograms by the square of an individual’s height in metres (kg/m²). This calculation does not take account of age- and gender-specific differences or of an individual’s body mass composition. Since the ratio of height to weight constantly changes in children and adolescents, there is no single threshold value for all age groups for the classification of excess weight and obesity. Excess weight and obesity among children and adolescents are defined by using an individual’s age and gender to compare his or her BMI with those of a predefined reference population. The percentile reference values proposed by Katrin Kromeyer-Hauschild are used as a comparison, as recommended by the Childhood Obesity Federation (AGA). In this method, children and adolescents are said to be overweight if their BMI is above the 90th age and gender-specific percentile of the reference population (> P90), that is to say if they fall within the range of those 10% of the reference group with the highest BMIs. A BMI above the 97th percentile of the reference population (i.e. as high as the 3% of children and adolescents with the highest BMIs) is classified as obesity (> P97). For example, girls and boys aged three with a BMI of 18.8 kg/m² are considered to be obese. These reference values are based on details of body size and weight that were recorded between 1985 and 1998 in various regions of Germany, using different methods.

The data for the indicator was collected by the Robert Koch Institute. The German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS) for the period 2003 to 2006 delivered the first nationwide representative findings. Comparable measurement data are available for the period from 2014 to 2017 from the second follow-up of the KiGGS study (KiGGS Wave 2). To allow proper data comparison, the findings were standardised on the basis of extrapolated population data for 31 December 2015.

For the 2014-2017 period, 3.9% of the 3 to 10-year-olds and 8.0% of the 11 to 17-year-olds were classed as obese. While there were no differences between the sexes in the 3-10 age group, the rates for the 11 to 17-year-olds were 7.2% for girls and 8.7% for boys. In the period from 2003 to 2006, the proportion of 3 to 10-year-olds with obesity was about 5.2%; among the 11 to 17-year-olds, it was about 8.3%. In that period too, girls and boys in the 3-10 age group were equally affected. The figure for the 11-17 age group broke down into 8.2% of the girls and 8.4% of the boys. The obesity rate has therefore fallen more sharply among 3 to 10-year-olds than in the 11-17 age group. While it fell by 1.0 percentage points among girls aged 11 to 17, it showed a slight increase of 0.3 of a percentage point among boys in that age group.

The percentage of overweight 11-17-year-olds (> P90) had not changed substantially since the 2003-2006 period, showing a decline of 0.6 of a percentage point to 12.3% in the 3-10 age group and an increase of 0.6 of a percentage point to 18.7% among 11 to 17-year-olds.

Key factors in becoming overweight are nutrition and exercise habits, which vary considerably when the findings are examined in the light of socio-economic status (SES). The findings of KiGGS Wave 2 confirm that 3 to 17-year-olds with a low socio-economic status more often have an unhealthy diet and more rarely take part in sport than their contemporaries with a higher socio-economic status. The risk of excess weight and obesity among 3 to 17-year-olds with a low socio-economic status are about three to four times greater than in the high status group; each group comprises about 20% of the sample population.

This summary table illustrates the evaluations of the indicator by status of previous years. This shows whether the weather symbol for an indicator has been stable or rather volatile in the past years. (Evaluations from the indicator report 2021)


3.1.e Obesity rate among children and adolescents


Increase to be permanently halted


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 Robert Koch Institute


Robert Koch Institute