Suffering children's health in Germany

Suffering children's health in Germany

DAK study among pediatricians: children's health in Germany suffers

The health of children in Germany is apparently bad. More and more children and adolescents suffer from obesity, mental illnesses and behavioral problems. Pediatricians raise the alarm in a DAK study and call for improved and more up-to-date check-ups.

Germany is one of the richest countries in the world and nevertheless the health of children is apparently deteriorating to an increasing extent. At least that's what pediatricians reported during a study by the German employee health insurance DAK. This asked the doctors about their assessments and experiences in recent years. The overall result very quickly made it clear that children's health has deteriorated significantly in the past ten years. According to the DAK, the deterioration in health among primary school children is particularly serious. According to the doctors, children between the ages of 6 and 8 years are particularly affected, since this age range is most evident when the state of health deteriorates.

Children hardly move and often eat unhealthily
During the survey study, around 100 child health specialists nationwide were interviewed. The doctors filled out pre-filled questionnaires and reported anonymously about their practical experience. Most doctors saw a clear trend that can be summarized quickly. The children eat more and more unhealthy, hardly move anymore and spend most of their free time in front of the television or computer. In addition, parents would offer less and less as concrete role models because they are too busy with themselves or their professional lives. A clear majority of 61 percent of pediatricians indicated that parents were hardly or hardly suitable as role models.

The DAK health insurance company was concerned about these figures. "The assessment of pediatricians is alarming," emphasized DAK doctor Dr. Christina Sewekow. Sewekow emphasized that children's health upbringing in Germany has to be “given more weight”. The expert agreed with the opinion of the professional association of pediatricians. This recently called for a more intensive reworking of the prevention programs for children. The number of preventive medical examinations therefore does not have to be expanded. Rather, newly added aspects such as overweight and psychological suffering would have to be included in order to be more preventive. "It is also important to involve parents and school more," explains Dr. Many parents need more support to educate their children more adequately.

Children often suffer from obesity and mental illness
The psychological problems and the increasing overweight of the children are particularly serious. In the survey, over 50 percent of the physicians indicated that the children's health status had deteriorated (51 percent) or significantly (4 percent) since 2000. Over 97 percent of the doctors also found that "above all, mental problems and behavioral problems have increased". In the field of mental illnesses, as much as 55 percent of pediatricians see "a sharp increase". Another area is nutrition education. The first health consequences of malnutrition occur as early as primary school. Over 95 percent of doctors see a significant increase in health damage in children due to obesity. According to a science study from 2010, around 14 percent of all children suffer from obesity. About six percent showed the onset of pathological obesity in early childhood. Because children are too one-sidedly developing their skills due to the increase in media objects such as computers and the Internet, more and more children are also suffering from motor deficits. An increase in the number of language and hearing impairments was noticed by doctors, especially among the 3 to 5 year olds.

Improved prevention programs are required
As part of the survey study, the Federal Association of Pediatricians in Germany is calling for a reform of the preventive programs. The difficulties and problems of the children are different today than they were 40 years ago. Because the cornerstones of the programs have not changed since then. Due to the addition of further problems, the so-called "U-examinations are no longer up to date". The chairman of the professional association, Dr. Wolfram Hartmann, therefore, called for a change in early detection. Accordingly, one has to move away from the "old concept of early detection and towards the concept of preventing the development of disease, ie primary prevention". In April 2011, the Forsa opinion and research institute carried out a nationwide survey of 100 pediatricians on behalf of the DAK. (sb)

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Picture: Dr. Stephan Barth /

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