gms | German Medical Science

50. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie (gmds)
12. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Epidemiologie (dae)

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie
Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Epidemiologie

12. bis 15.09.2005, Freiburg im Breisgau

Body weight and Body Mass Index in consecutive cohorts of school beginners in a community in Lower Bavaria 1997-2002

Meeting Abstract

  • Heribert Stich - Landratsamt Dingolfing-Landau, Dingolfing
  • Raphael Mikolajczyk - Universität Bielefeld, Bielefeld
  • Bernhard Baune - Universtät Münster, Münster
  • Alexander Krämer - Universität Bielefeld, Bielefeld

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie. Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Epidemiologie. 50. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie (gmds), 12. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Epidemiologie. Freiburg im Breisgau, 12.-15.09.2005. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2005. Doc05gmds191

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: September 8, 2005

© 2005 Stich et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.




An increase in overweight and obesity in young children was reported for the last years and gained substantial attention in the media. The developments can be potentially attributed to dietary changes or increased physical inactivity, however the factors are not clearly described and the age when the disproportionate changes in body weight take place is not specified. The aim of this study was to investigate whether there was an increase in mean body weight or Body Mass Index (BMI) and proportion of overweight in 5-7 year old children in recent years.


We analysed the sample of 6420 school beginners from consecutive 6 years of examination (1997-2002) in a region of Lower Bavaria. The dataset includes weight and height of the children, their exact age and some additional sociodemographic data (gender, number of siblings, nationality). We compared the mean weight adjusted for age and gender and the distribution of BMI in each of the 6 years. We calculated the proportion of overweight children according to age standardised cut-off points [1].


The mean body weight of the school beginners increased during 1997-1999 and decreased again during the following period (Fig. 1 [Fig. 1]). The development was similar for boys and girls. There was a decrease in the mean age of the children at examination over the study period and adjusting for age removed 31% of the difference between the years 1999 and 2002 for boys and 37% for girls. Nationality (German versus other) and the number of siblings were not associated with weight in this sample.

The distribution of BMI in the samples examined in each separate year revealed a decrease of the proportion of children with higher BMIs over the study period. This effect remained after adjusting for age and gender.

The proportion of overweight children increased from 14% in 1997 to 25% in 1999 and decreased thereafter to 13% in 2000 and 11% in 2001 and 2002.


We observed a change in body weight in the cohorts of school beginners in the study period. However, the highest mean weight and proportion of overweight children was reached in 1998-1999 and decreased in the following years. Whether the decreasing trend resulted from preventive messages cannot be determined with the available dataset. An analysis of longer time periods and inclusion of factors influencing body weight would be necessary to adequately assess the weight development.


Cole, T. J., Bellizzi, M. C., Flegal, K. M. and Dietz, W. H. (2000). Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: international survey. Bmj 320(7244), 1240-3.