Punish obesity? Should obese people pay higher health insurance contributions?

Punish obesity? Should obese people pay higher health insurance contributions?

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Obesity is wrongly perceived as self-inflicted

The number of overweight people in Germany continues to rise. Obesity is a risk factor for numerous other complications and thus the health expenditure associated with obesity is increasing. A survey now shows that one in four people think that people suffering from obesity have to pay an increased contribution rate to health insurers because the disease is self-inflicted - a widespread prejudice.

A joint study by the SRH University of Health, the Integrated Research and Treatment Center for Obesity Diseases and the Institute for Social Medicine, Occupational Medicine and Public Health at the University of Leipzig examined the extent to which people with obesity are discriminated against in the health system. The researchers found that there are still many prejudices about the disease. The study was published in the journal Obesity Facts.

Stigmata: It's your own fault!

When it comes to public opinion, many people believe that people who are overweight are always to blame for their situation. A common prejudice is that overweight people just sit and eat all day, and it's easy to change this situation by doing more exercise and eating less.

Unfortunately, it's not that easy

The current study situation clearly shows that obesity is a much more complex disease than many think. In most cases, factors such as genetics, stress, physical or mental illnesses and wrongly learned habits play a role in obesity. Some influences go back to early childhood. Just recently, another study showed that genetics also plays a bigger role than previously thought.

One in four demanded higher contributions for obese people

The team around Professor Dr. Claudia Luck-Sikorski conducted a survey of 179 participants to reflect public opinion on people with obesity. It was found that a quarter of the respondents demanded a significantly higher contribution rate. Those who had the greatest prejudices against the sick also asked for the highest contribution rates. The presence of prejudice was most associated with the increased contribution claims.

High need for clarification

"The study results illustrate the spread of negative prejudices against people with obesity and the setting in which they are reflected," the researchers sum up in a press release on the study results. At this point there is a high need for clarification. Here are some articles that show that there is much more to obesity than just the pleasure of eating:

  • Obesity genes: Losing weight is made more difficult due to hereditary factors
  • That's why losing weight often doesn't work!
  • Overweight in children due to long working hours of the parents
  • Fruitless weight loss: these are the top 10 weight loss mistakes in diets


Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Bernard, M. / Riedel-Heller, S.G. / Luck-Sikorski C .: Weigh More, Pay More? Public Opinion on Varying Health Insurance Contributions among Divergent Weight Groups, Obesity Facts, 2019,
  • SRH University of Health: How are people with obesity discriminated against in the health system? (Accessed: October 21, 2019),

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