How did the obesity rate get so high

Overweight (obesity / obesity)

Lifestyle habits

Overweight children and adolescents often sleep little and exercise less than their peers. However, the lack of exercise cannot be attributed to high media consumption alone, as there are also many children and young people who also spend a lot of time with computers and television and still do a lot of sport. High media consumption in combination with a lack of physical activity, however, promotes weight gain. It is observed in schools that fewer and fewer children want to do sports. It is increasingly common for children to move almost completely in their free time. During the breaks, the game boy comes first for many children and takes on the role that football or other activities once played. However, one should bear in mind that playing ball in playgrounds is often forbidden for safety reasons. Children should therefore be encouraged to exercise and exercise by their parents at a very young age, so that they can experience early on that exercise is fun.

Learned malnutrition and early childhood imprint

Behaviors relating to food intake - for example the importance of eating in the family, the menu and the frequency of snacks, reward rituals (candies), etc. - are learned by the parents and passed on to the children. Accordingly, an increase in overweight people has been observed within the family. Tobacco consumption behavior can be an indicator of a less health-conscious attitude on the part of parents: the children of parents who smoke are more often overweight than the children of non-smokers.

If children were not breastfed as infants, they are more prone to obesity than breastfeeding children. In contrast, according to the results of the KIGGS study, children who have been fully breastfed for 6 months or more have the lowest risk of obesity. The nutrition and exercise situation during pregnancy and in the first year of life influences the later health of the child (metabolic programming). An oversupply of the (unborn) child with sugar / energy during pregnancy (e.g. gestational diabetes) and in infancy leads to strong weight gain in the womb and in the first year of life and increases the long-term risk of obesity and the associated cardiovascular and metabolic diseases (e.g. diabetes mellitus). This results in promising prevention options in the early childhood phase through advice as part of the preventive examinations during pregnancy and in the first year of life. In order to support these preventive measures, the Young Family Network has been established with the participation of the BVKJ.

Genetic predisposition

In addition to the eating habits adopted by the parents, body weight is also related to genetic predispositions. This is shown by family and twin research. Researchers estimate the influence of genes to be 50 to 90%. Around 80% of fat children have at least one overweight parent, and 30% have both parents. The massive obesity, which is widespread among some peoples, for example among the South Sea islanders, speaks for a role of genes.

Social background

Children and adolescents from socially disadvantaged families, like children with a migration background, have an increased risk of overweight and obesity. Pupils attending secondary, special or special schools are more often affected than those attending higher schools.

Psychological causes

Obesity often has psychological causes. Mentally induced obesity can be triggered, for example, by experiences of loss such as separation from the parental home, divorce of the parents or the death of a parent.

Persistent stressful situations, loneliness, “feeling unloved” and boredom can also lead to food intake being viewed as a substitute satisfaction. Food then serves as a means of reducing frustration; Do something “good” for the body in order to feel “better”. Overeating supports both the defense against unpleasant sensations and the suppression of fears, depression, etc. Many overweight people do indeed have a depressive personality structure.

Overeating can also be an expression of mental health problems. In girls, obesity can, for example, serve to defend against the female gender role. However, doctors still do not agree on whether obesity, such as eating and vomiting addiction (bulimia) and anorexia nervosa, meets the criteria of a psychosomatic illness.

Physical causes

In less than 1 in 100 people who are seriously overweight, a physical illness is the cause of obesity. These include certain hereditary congenital diseases or acquired dysfunctions of the pituitary gland, thyroid gland or adrenal gland. Chronic illnesses that lead to a significant reduction in mobility can also be associated with obesity. In addition to being overweight, all of these diseases have other symptoms that can be quickly identified by the pediatrician.


Medicines can also trigger obesity. The best known is the weight gain due to long-term treatment with the drug cortisone, which can trigger the so-called Cushing's syndrome with the typical symptoms of trunk obesity and "full moon face". Other drugs (insulin, neuroleptics, etc.) also have the side effect of "weight gain". But the increase in body weight is usually limited by a few kilograms. After the end of the therapy, the body weight usually returns to normal.