Why did childhood obesity become acceptable

“We cannot afford to do nothing!” - paediatricians are calling for new concepts to protect against obesity


Overweight children and adolescents are part of our everyday life: Although the total number of children with serious weight problems has remained roughly the same in recent years, the social inequality for the occurrence of pathological overweight (obesity) has increased very sharply in the last decade.

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The national child and adolescent health survey (KIGGS) states that boys from socio-economically disadvantaged families have a 4.1 times higher incidence of obesity, while the risk for girls is even 4.4 times higher than in families with a high level of education and income . A decade ago this difference was “only” three times.

Inventory: Unequal opportunities from the start

A central risk factor is - this is shown by the child and youth report recently submitted by the DAK - the parents' educational status. A lack of education on the part of parents increases their child's risk of obesity considerably. Obesity in children and adolescents leads to greatly increased lifelong disease risks, e.g. B. for diabetes, heart attack, stroke and some cancers, and a significantly shorter life expectancy.

The level of education, professional position and household income are therefore decisive factors in a child's health.

“The dramatic increase in the significantly poorer health and life chances for children from families with a low income or level of education is unacceptable. We must by no means leave these children behind, but must make greater efforts to give all children a good start in their future, ”said Dr. Thomas Fischbach, President of the Professional Association of Pediatricians (BVKJ) at a joint press conference with the German Society for Child and Adolescent Medicine (DGKJ) and the German Obesity Society (DAG) on September 18, 2018 in Berlin.

Politics must support and promote a healthy lifestyle!

In view of the stagnating high number of obesity diseases even among the youngest, the three medical associations are making demands on politicians to finally use efficient measures to reduce risk.
The doctors are also interested in taking stock of the numerous campaigns and initiatives of recent years, which have one thing in common with regard to the affected children: “The strategy of strengthening families that has been favored in Germany so far, e. B with well-made brochures and a wide range of information, often reached middle-class families who were interested anyway, but did not provide adequate protection for children from risk groups. And the problem cannot be solved with project work alone, ”summarizes Prof. Dr. Ingeborg Krägeloh-Mann, President of the German Society for Child and Adolescent Medicine (DGKJ), combined efforts to prevent childhood obesity.

Since the greatest risk factor for child obesity is an unhealthy diet in terms of the effects occurring, the following should be started here: “Rules set by politics should make the healthier choice the easier choice when eating, which can significantly reduce the risk of obesity. When it comes to the introduction of preventive measures to strengthen a healthy lifestyle, Germany is unfortunately still in the bottom group in an international comparison. "

Requirement: minimum standards for lunch in daycare centers and schools

The three organizations are calling for minimum standards for healthy communal catering to be mandatory in all educational institutions, from crèche to secondary school. Eating healthy in kindergarten and school not only has a great immediate benefit for the child's health and performance, but also shapes healthier eating behavior in the long term.

“In Germany, too, the distribution of sugary drinks in day care centers and schools must be strictly prohibited. B. has long been a matter of course in Belgium and France ”, says Priv. Doz. Susanna Wiegand as representative of the German Obesity Society. Many scientific studies have shown that regular consumption of sugary drinks is a strong individual risk factor for overweight and obesity: "Children should learn to drink water to protect their health."

Requirements: Simple labeling of food

Families want to feed their children healthily, but it is difficult for them to identify and choose the better products. "It is urgently necessary to label healthier foods on the front of the pack, as France introduced the Nutriscore," demands Prof. Dr. Berthold Koletzko, chairman of the DGKJ nutrition commission. With the Nutriscore, foods are labeled with a letter and color code, primarily due to the content of sugar, saturated fat and salt, very similar to the labeling of energy consumption in electrical appliances that has long been established in Europe.

Dr. Fischbach mentions another source of information for product selection: “Until the general introduction of Nutriscore in Germany as well, we advise families to download an app such as 'Open Food Facts' onto their mobile phone and use it to scan the barcode of the products in the supermarket - they will receive it then immediately the Nutriscore for the product and you can easily choose the healthier products for your children and the whole family. "

Requirement: advertising control for target group "child"

The three organizations are calling for a consistent restriction on food advertising aimed at children. "The scientific data is clear: Children who are exposed to food advertisements consume more unhealthy food and drinks, and they are more often affected by overweight, obesity and the diseases associated with them," emphasizes Dr. Wiegand, DAG.

Demand: sugar tax

Taxing sugary drinks, as already existed in Great Britain, Mexico and many other countries, can also make it easier to choose healthier drinks.

Prof. Dr. Koletzko: “We very much hope that politicians will be willing to take consistent measures, because the burden of today's overweight children for the consequences of illness and limited life chances is enormous. The health costs alone for the overweight children and adolescents in Germany today amount to 1.8 billion euros. - We cannot afford to do nothing! "

For the protection of children - not the food industry

The German Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, the Professional Association of Pediatricians and the German Obesity Society have jointly decided to end their membership in the "Platform Nutrition and Exercise (PEB)", which was founded a good decade ago.
“As a founding member, at the start of the PEB, we had high hopes that a common platform for all actors in civil society would enable a joint and open discussion, including on controversial issues, as well as active contributions from all members to reducing obesity in children. Unfortunately, both goals were not achieved! The vast majority of PEB members come from the food industry and are blocking the urgently needed discussion about targeted measures to protect children from too much unhealthy food, ”says Prof. Ingeborg Krägeloh-Mann, President of the German Society for Child and Adolescent Medicine.
Press contacts:

  • BVKJ office, Mielenforster Str. 2, 51069 Cologne, Tel. 0221-68909-0, [email protected]
  • Kathrin Jackel-Neusser, Political Officer, Chausseestr. 128/129, 10115 Berlin, Tel. 030-280 47510, email: [email protected]
  • DAG press office, Dr. Stefanie Gerlach, Tel. 0163-8534731, [email protected]
  • DGKJ press office, Dr. Sybille Lunau, Tel. 030 3087779-14, [email protected]

“We cannot afford to do nothing!” - paediatricians are calling for new concepts to protect against obesity(PDF 403 KB)

This is a joint press release
of the BVKJ (professional association of paediatricians), the DAG (German Obesity Society) andof the DGKJ (German Society for Child and Adolescent Medicine). This press release or parts of the article can be reproduced provided the source is acknowledged: www.adipositas-gesellschaft.de, www.dgkj.de or www.kinderarezte-im-netz.de. In the case of publication in online media, the source must be linked to one of these start pages. In principle, photos and illustrations may not be used.