Normal weight in Germany is becoming a rarity

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Will normal weight become an exception in Germany? The majority of Germans have weight problems

Fewer and fewer people in Germany are of normal weight. The 27th annual conference of the German Obesity Society started yesterday with the main theme "Obesity in the First Half of Life". More and more adolescents have suffered from considerable weight problems in the past ten years, "in addition to genetic predisposition, environmental factors set the course for individual weight development at a very early stage," explains the German Obesity Society (DAG), setting its current focus.

According to the DAG, the majority of Germans today suffer from weight problems - normal people are clearly in the minority. For those affected, it is becoming more and more difficult to regain control of their own weight with every kilogram too much on their ribs, the experts said yesterday at the start of the DAG annual conference. According to the DAG, adults in particular have considerable difficulties in sustainably reducing their weight again. Only one in ten of them manage to keep the low weight after a diet or therapy. The chances are much better for adolescents, according to the statement at the 27th annual conference of DAG in Bochum.

One-eighth of the children struggle with weight problems As the experts reported on the first day of the DAG event, the chance for children to decrease their weight with therapy and targeted training is significantly higher with a 50 percent chance of success than for adults, so that increased countermeasures should be made in adolescence. The basic prerequisite for this is that the parents also move in, emphasized conference president Prof. Thomas Reinehr from the Datteln Children's and Adolescent Clinic and added that appropriate therapeutic approaches should be intensified significantly, since the development is also alarming among the children. According to the expert, the number of obese children has more than doubled in the past ten years and around six percent of adolescents are now obese. Every eighth child is struggling with general weight problems. Here parents, educators and doctors are increasingly asked to take measures against the disproportionate weight gain of adolescents. Prof. Reinehr believes that there is reason for hope in the expansion of all-day schools, as the school canteens can have a significant impact on children's eating habits.

Impending health impairments The problem of overweight is also relatively widespread among children and adolescents, but according to the DAG experts, adults between the ages of 20 and 50 are particularly affected. During this lifespan, the Germans gain an average of 15 kilograms, emphasized DAG President Prof. Hans Hauner. Overall, 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women in this country are overweight or obese, whereby in addition to genetic predisposition, environmental influences, eating and exercise habits, a significant influence is attributed. A third of those who are overweight suffer from a loss of control when eating, which makes it virtually impossible for them to regulate their weight independently, according to the experts. As the obesity is associated with significant long-term health impairments such as an increased risk of diabetes, dementia (especially Alzheimer's), cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer, the DAG urged countermeasures to be taken at its annual conference. The risk of high blood pressure, back pain and other orthopedic ailments also increases due to being overweight. The previous projects, such as extensive exercise initiatives, are not sufficient to sustainably reduce the proportion of overweight people. According to the DAG president, new approaches to reduce obesity must also be considered. For example, the conference president 2011, Prof. Thomas Reinehr, combines the current events with the wish "to set accents in the psychosocial perspective on obesity in addition to interesting current research priorities in obesity research."

Fat tax as a measure against obesity? Overall, the situation in Germany is relatively alarming, according to DAG. Germany is in the upper quarter in the European comparison among the overweight, said DAG President Hauner. In the Scandinavian countries, the situation is much better, while many southern European countries are struggling with even more serious problems, Hauner added. According to DAG, the fact that the population in the Scandinavian countries has less to suffer from being overweight is also due to the fact that the government is taking more countermeasures here. For example, there is a so-called fat tax in Denmark, while Germany is struggling with reasonable food labeling, the DAG expert complained. (fp)

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Image: Thommy Weiss /

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