Sixty percent of men and 43 percent of women have a Body Mass Index (BMI) – a measure calculated by body weight and height – of more than 25, up from 56 percent and 40 percent respectively in 1999, the statistics office said.
Some 16 percent of men and 14 percent of women are classified as obese with a BMI of more than 30.
A person’s BMI is their weight in kilogrammes divided by the square of their height in metres. For example, an adult who is 1.8 metres tall is overweight if they are above 81 kilograms and very overweight – or obese – if they are more than 97 kilograms.
Overweight becomes more common with increasing age. In the 20 to 24 year age group, some 29 percent of men and 18 percent of women are overweight. Among Germans aged 70 to 74, however, the figure climbs to 74 percent of men and 63 percent of women.
Men are more obese than women in all age groups.
Marriage is also a factor. Some 69 percent of married men are overweight, compared with 43 percent of single men. For women, being widowed is the strongest indicator, with 58 percent of widows overweight. Some 46 percent of married women are overweight compared with 25 percent of singles.
The figures compare unfavourably with those in France, where 38.5 percent of men and 26 percent of women are overweight, but Germans are clearly thinner than Britons.
Data from Britain’s National Heart Forum in February suggested that eight out of 10 men and nearly seven out of 10 women in England will be too fat by 2020, with 41 percent of men forecast to be obese.
Nearly 20 percent of US children between the ages of six and 19 are estimated to suffer from obesity, which can encourage diabetes, heart disease and other serious health problems.
And in China, there are more than 60 million obese people, and another 200 million who are overweight, according to a Chinese health ministry statement in November that cited a 2004 nationwide survey.
In the German figures, some 7 percent of single women were considered underweight – meaning they have a BMI of 18.5.
Young women were most likely to be underweight – with 13 percent of 18 to 19-year-olds, and 9 percent of 20 to 24-year-olds, considered to be below the healthy weight range.