News

RKI: Income class determines child health


“Poverty and Health” congress is currently taking place in Berlin

Poverty and health are closely related. Children are particularly hard hit. This emerges from a large study by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). A large congress is currently also dealing with this topic in Berlin. Here are the key facts in brief:

  • Socially disadvantaged children on average have a much worse health status than their peers from higher-earning families.
  • People who have to live below the poverty risk line from birth have a life expectancy that is eight to eleven years lower than that of the high income earners.
  • Socially disadvantaged groups have a two to three times higher risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
  • Disadvantages that arise in childhood often remain in later life.
  • Doctors and politicians are demanding less competition and more solidarity in the healthcare system

In a large-scale study, the RKI published new data on the general health status of children and adolescents in Germany. In addition to various aspects such as overweight, smoking behavior and psychological abnormalities, the social status of the children was also linked to the general state of health. A large congress with around 2000 participants will take place in Berlin from March 20 to 21, 2018 on the subject of "Poverty and Health".

The current health situation of adolescents

KIGGS, the name of the study on the health of children and adolescents, provides information about the current health situation of adolescents in Germany. The newly published data cover the period between 2014 and 2017. "The KiGGS data are an important basis for evidence-based measures to improve the health of the population," reports Lothar H. Wieler, President of the Robert Koch Institute, in a press release the study results.

Obesity prevalent in children

The study results were published in the "Journal of Health Monitoring". "Above all, we can use the new longitudinal data to better investigate the question of when decisive points are made for physical and mental health," explains Wieler. The study data clearly show that more than half of the two- to six-year-old children with overweight or obesity remain overweight later than adolescents. Wieler therefore advises early prevention.

Poverty causes poor child health

The study also established a clear link between poverty and poor health. The data from the analysis made it clear that children and adolescents whose parents have a lower income and poorer education are significantly more likely to have mediocre, poor or very poor health than their peers whose parents earn more and are better educated.

Health inequalities

This topic is currently being hotly debated at the Berlin “Poverty and Health” congress, as the past few years have shown that there has been no reduction in this context. "Men and women with an income below the poverty risk limit have an average life expectancy at birth of eight to eleven years lower than that of the high income recipients," emphasizes Dr. Thomas Lampert of the RKI in a press release on the congress.

The poor are at increased risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes

According to Lampert, the risk of chronic diseases such as a heart attack, stroke, diabetes and chronic bronchitis is also increased two to three times in the socially disadvantaged population groups. Lampert reports that "there is no evidence that social differences in health and life expectancy may have narrowed." In some areas, the differences have even widened.

Children are particularly hard hit

"At very different levels, poverty ensures an unfavorable start in life and puts enormous strain on parents and their children," warns Susanna Rinne-Wolf, first chairwoman of the Berlin Midwives Association. Instead of anticipation, forging plans for the future and a togetherness shaped by love, these children experience tangible fears for their existence, big hurdles in the use of help and often social isolation.

Disadvantages in childhood often continue in later life

“This disadvantage often continues in later life and is clearly reflected in the education sector, among other things,” summarizes Rinne-Wolf.

Non-contributory health insurance for all children under the age of 18

Dr. Uwe Denker founded the first practice without borders in Germany in 2010, which aims to provide medical advice and treatment to people in need free of charge. He is increasingly meeting “children and adolescents from families in which none of the family members have health insurance,” says Denker. He therefore calls for general, non-contributory health insurance for all children up to the age of 18 living in Germany.

Health care must be equally accessible to everyone

"A socially just health policy must be measured by whether it succeeds in realizing the human right to health," says Boris Velter, State Secretary in the Senate Department for Health, Nursing and Equality. Velter demands that everyone, regardless of origin, age, gender or social situation, must have access to health care.

In healthcare, there is competition instead of solidarity

"Although the German healthcare system is attested to have solid elements of solidarity, the focus on competitive behavior patterns is increasing," says the press release. The personal responsibility of the insured is also increasingly in the foreground. The individual is responsible for his own health, although many factors are outside the individual's control area.

Health policy in the repair

"Improving equal opportunities for health is to be understood as a cross-sectional task for society as a whole", says Velter: As long as the problem is not recognized as one that concerns the whole of society, health policy will often only be a repair. The improvement of living and working conditions is only possible by linking economic, labor market, education and social policies. (vb)

Author and source information

Video: 5 connections that will change childrens lives. Laura Jana. TEDxOmaha (August 2020).