Sustainable development in Germany - 17 Goals to Transform our World

Health and nutrition – Living healthy longer

Indicator 3.1.f: Obesity rates among adults

(Evaluation of the development of Germany in the reporting year 2017 as reporting year from indicator report 2021)


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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 the total adult population (aged 18 and over) who are affected by obesity.

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

Obesity plays a crucial role in the onset of lifestyle diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and joint disorders. Besides its health implications, excess weight also has onerous economic and social consequences. The target must therefore be to ensure that the proportion of the population with obesity in Germany does 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) 2021-09-10: 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.

People with a BMI of 25 and above are regarded as overweight, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) classification, and those with a BMI of 30 as obese.

The data basis for the indicator is the microcensus conducted by the Federal Statistical Office. That sample survey covers 1% of the total population. The questions on health are asked every four years as a rule, and responses to them are voluntary. The indicator is thus based on the proportion of the population with a BMI of 30 and higher who answered the questions concerning body weight and height in the microcensus.

The corresponding data were standardised relative to the European population of 1990 to allow comparisons of data from different years and regions without distortions resulting from diverse age structures. Since the questions on health in the microcensus are not asked annually, the chart data for the intervening years have been interpolated. Where people provide information about themselves, as in the microcensus, body weight is often understated compared with measured values, whereas height is more likely to be overstated. As a result, the BMI calculated on the basis of respondents’ own information is lower than a BMI based on measured data.

In 2017, 14.8% of the population in Germany over the age of 18 were classified as obese. The obesity rate for men in this population, at 16.4%, was higher than that for women (13.0%). In 1999, 10.7% of the population were obese. At that time too, the proportion of women affected by obesity (10.2%) was slightly lower than that of men (11.1%). The obesity rate among adults, in other words, has increased and so is moving away from the goal of the German Sustainable Development Strategy. A further 34.0% of the population aged 18 and above had a BMI of at least 25 but below 30 in 2017. This means that 48.8% have a BMI of 25 or more and are therefore considered overweight. Again, the proportion of women (39.0%) was lower than that of men (58.0%).

The proportion of adults suffering from obesity increases with age and does not decrease until an advanced age is reached. In 2017, 3.4% of 18- to 19-year-old women were obese. For the 30-34 age group, the figure had already risen to 10.1%. The obesity rate for women peaked in the 65-69 age group at 21.7%. In each of the age groups below 75, the obesity rate for men was higher than for women of the same age, the highest rates being recorded in the 60-64 age group, at 24.5%, and the 65-69 age group, at 25.3%.

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.f Obesity rate among adults


Increase to be permanently halted



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 Federal Statistical Office


Federal Statistical Office