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Gesundheitswesen. 2006 Oct;68(10):600-12.

[Juvenile obesity and comorbidity type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2 DM) in Germany: development and cost-of-illness analysis].

[Article in German]

Author information

  • 1GSF-Forschungszentrum für Umwelt und Gesundheit--Institut für Gesundheitsökonomie und Management im Gesundheitswesen, Neuherberg, Germany.



Obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2 DM) among children have increased in the last years and developed into a major public health problem in Germany. Obesity and T2 DM are important causes of morbidity among young people associated with high costs for the health system. The objective of this paper is to estimate the number of obese and diabetic children and adolescents and the associated economic burden of illness in Germany now (2003) and in the future.


Cost assessments of obesity in adulthood and studies of obese children in Germany are based on English and German scientific publications and internet sources. Cost calculations are based on the top-down approach and the prevalence method. Direct costs of illness are derived from aggregate statistical data (ICD 10: obesity E 65-68; T2 DM E 11) and various scientific publications and telephone interviews. Except for T2 DM, other comorbidities of obesity are neglected in this analysis.


In 1999, 1.3 million children were overweight and 594,000 were obese in Germany. The highest prevalence of obesity was in children aged 14 to 17 years. The prevalence for overweight children has risen from 8.9 % to 15.7 % and for obese children from 10.1 % to 13.1 % over the period from 1994 to 1999/1998. Approximately 1 % of these were type 2 diabetics. During 2003, the mean annual direct costs of obesity were euro 44 million, with euro 36.4 million for rehabilitation, euro 3.6 million for hospital care and euro 3.9 million for special medical programs. The costs of juvenile T2 DM were euro 1.4 million (hospital care and rehabilitation). Mean costs per treated obese child added up to euro 3484.00 and to euro 8539.00 per treated obese child with T2 DM. The incremental costs are euro 2489.00 for obese children and euro 7544.00 for obese children with T2 DM compared to the average costs of illness of a child aged 5 to 20 years in Germany. Future annual attributable costs of obesity could be up to euro 6.4 million, 7.3-10.1 % of all obesity costs and for T2 DM up to euro 17.3 million (without T2 DM comorbidities) and euro 92.1 million (inclusive of all T2 DM comorbidities), 7.0-55.6 % of all obesity costs.


Obesity and T2 DM are rapidly emerging as major disorders of childhood and adolescence and as important cost drivers for the health system. Due to the lack of data, there is a need for further research in the costs of obesity and T2 DM among children and for studies on suitable interventions to obviate a major public health crisis in Germany. The challenge for health policy is to identify effective and efficient prevention strategies.

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