Diabetes and high blood pressure: poor people more at risk
First of all, the results of a study by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) sound encouraging: This is how three quarters of Germans feel fit. However, other results are also clear: diabetes continues to increase and poor people are more affected by almost all diseases.
Positive development in older people
For the so-called DEGS health study (study on adult health in Germany), staff at the Robert Koch Institute asked a total of 8152 adults aged 18 and over how healthy they feel. The majority of the participants were also examined medically. The results were positive: three quarters of the respondents said they felt fit. Even half of the over 70s rated their health as good or very good. RKI employee Thomas Ziese speaks especially of older people about a positive development since 1998, the year when the previous study was published.
A third more diabetes diseases The recognizable positive trend must not hide other negative results. It was found that a third more people in Germany had diabetes than ten years ago. In addition, about seven percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 79 in Germany were affected by this metabolic disease. The proportion of 70 to 79 year olds was particularly high at 22 percent. Stefanie Gerlach, Head of Health Policy at Deutsche Diabetes-Hilfe, said: "We were surprised at how massively the number of people with diabetes has risen." In addition, the number of unreported cases is very high, since it took an average of ten years to be diagnosed . With timely detection, measures could often be taken during this time to avoid complications. In order to diagnose diabetes more quickly, regular health tests, questionnaire-based determination of the risk factors and, if suspected, targeted examinations for diabetes are necessary. "Diabetes doesn't hurt. In the initial stages, the disease can be asymptomatic - or symptoms, such as fatigue, are too unspecific and are not classified correctly. ”Diabetes help therefore calls for a national strategy to remedy the deficits in prevention, early detection and care.
High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack. Almost a third of German citizens have high blood pressure. Either the upper, systolic value is over 140 or the lower, diastolic, over 90. This result must be seen as a warning, because high blood pressure increases the risk of many diseases enormously. Almost three percent of the 40 to 79 year olds suffer a stroke and almost five percent have a heart attack, which is the number one cause of death in Germany. So far, however, the study does not reveal whether there was an increase in high blood pressure regardless of the age structure. "These calculations are very complex," says Ziese. "The evaluations are still ongoing." The situation is similar for mental illnesses such as depression. The number of diagnoses had clearly increased, but only further analyzes should clarify whether this reflects an increased burden on people.
150 minutes of exercise a week According to the study, about every second woman and two out of three men are too heavy. About a quarter of Germans are even overweight. Obesity is a growing problem not only in this country. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around three million people worldwide die every year from the consequences of being overweight. Health experts estimate the number of overweight people to be around half a billion people worldwide. Only a third of the German population makes sure that they do enough sport. Experts recommend exercising moderately for at least 150 minutes a week. "Our society does not make it easy for us to move and eat healthy," criticizes Ms. Gerlach. For example, escalators and elevators would prevent people from moving enough. A rethink should also take place regarding nutrition. For example, the expert believes that simple and understandable food labeling is necessary: “Sugar, fat, salt and fiber contents should be color-coded on the packaging. Green means: good, yellow is okay in moderation, red means caution, rarely eat. "
Need for action on alcohol and tobacco consumption The consumption of alcohol and tobacco is very common among young people. On average, every second man and third woman between the ages of 18 and 29 risk health through alcohol consumption. Smoking is also the most common in this age group. According to the study, one in four women and one in three men in this country smoke. That is why the scientists see further need for action here to limit risks.
Increased risk of illness in the face of poverty The results of the study regarding the relationship between health and financial conditions are downright shocking. The feeling of how healthy someone feels depends heavily on the social class. Ziese also said: "Health depends heavily on social position." People who have a lower income are more susceptible to almost all illnesses, from diabetes and high blood pressure to heart attacks and strokes to mental disorders. The website "gegen-hartz.de" even reported that, contrary to the general trend, the life expectancy of low-income earners in Germany has dropped significantly. Problems with obesity are also more common among people with lower incomes. Gerlach says: "Healthy foods are often more expensive than unhealthy ones." In their opinion, consumers should be seduced into healthier behavior. For example, canteens and schools could offer a selection of delicious, healthy dishes. "Policy measures can make it easier for us to behave healthy." That would also be the aim of the study. According to the Robert Koch Institute, the report should reach all stakeholders in the health care system: federal, state and local authorities, as well as doctors and health insurance companies. (sb)