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Ther Umsch. 2000 Aug;57(8):478-81.

[Epidemiology of obesity].

[Article in German]

Author information

  • 1Fachgruppe Ernährung und Gesundheit, Universität Paderborn.


Obesity is a well-recognized health hazard in affluent societies. The prevalence of overweight and obesity are high and still increasing consistently in industrialized countries. The body mass index (BMI) is an internationally accepted index to estimate body weight. The recent published WHO-classification of body weight allows the worldwide comparison of obesity prevalences. The WHO-MONICA study revealed different obesity prevalences in several European countries. The lowest prevalence of obesity was found in Sweden and Northern France (7-14%) whereas the highest prevalence (40%) was reported from East-European countries. The results of the DHP-survey suggest that 50% of the adult German population are overweight and 20% are obese. Data from the MONICA-study show lower prevalences for Switzerland, where 38% of the adult population are considered to have overweight and 11% are obese. By the way the prevalence of obesity is still increasing with a renewed acceleration during the last two decades. Obesity is starting to get the status of a main health problem not only in western countries but also in less developed countries of Middle- and South-America. In Germany obesity and the obesity-related morbidity and mortality caused costs of nearly 20.7 Mrd. DM in 1995. Therefore obesity is a major economic burden for the society. Like in other developed countries the costs attributable to obesity correspond to 2-8% of total health care expenditure.

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