Poverty makes you sick and reduces life expectancy

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Poverty makes you sick and reduces life expectancy

Poverty not only leads to social disadvantage, but also has a significant impact on health and life expectancy, according to one of the key messages at the current 18th Congress on Poverty and Health at the Technical University (TU) Berlin. At the press conference leading up to the congress, experts such as Dr. Thomas Lampert from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Professor Dr. Rolf Rosenbrock (Chairman of the Board of Health Berlin-Brandenburg e.V.), Cornelia Prüfer-Storcks (Senator for Health and Consumer Protection Hamburg) and Jürgen Graalmann (Board of Directors of the AOK Federal Association) on the connections between poverty and health risks.

"Every seventh child under the age of 15 lives on the basic security according to SGB II (Hartz-IV)", which currently stands at 255 euros, according to the press release on the occasion of the congress. In 2012, around 1.6 million children and adolescents were affected. "Their state of health is often worse than that of their peers," the experts report. At the congress, actors from science, politics, practice and civil society want to jointly discuss the health effects of poverty and develop appropriate solution strategies. It is clear that socially disadvantaged people have a higher risk of illness and a lower life expectancy. Among children, particularly those from large families or from households of single parents in Germany are affected by poverty. "Every eleventh child in poverty experiences everyday deprivation such as a lack of regular leisure activities and no daily hot meal," said the press release in the 18th Congress on Poverty and Health.

Using the data from the so-called Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), Dr. Thomas Lampert and colleagues from the RKI uncovered the statistical connections between income and mortality risk as well as life expectancy. It was found that “women and men whose incomes are below the poverty risk limit have a mortality risk that is 2.4 and 2.7 times higher than the highest income group”. For example, only 84 percent of women living in relative poverty would reach the age of 65, while 93 percent of relatively wealthy women would reach this age limit. RKI reports that only 69 percent of poor men live to be 65, whereas 87 percent of men in the high income group are older than 65. As income increases, the chance of you becoming 65 or older gradually increases.

Based on the average life expectancy at birth, the impact of income on health becomes even clearer, write the experts of the RKI. Here the difference between the lowest and highest income group was 8.4 years for women and 10.8 years for men. “If you only look at the healthy life expectancy, H. the years of life that are spent in very good or good general health status make the difference between the lowest and highest income groups even 13.3 years for women and 14.3 years for men, ”reports the RKI. Professor Rosenbrock, Chairman of the Joint Association and Chairman of Health Berlin-Brandenburg, emphasized that the facts convey an urgent need for action. With regard to possible disadvantages for children living in poverty, Rosenbrock said: "We need more healthy and affordable lunches in schools, nationwide daycare facilities, family midwives that reach parents early on and sufficient low-threshold health promotion offers."

The director of the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Pott, made it clear that she sees the municipalities as a decisive level of action in the fight against the health consequences of poverty. With the partner process "Healthy growth for everyone!", Which is based on nationwide coordinated recommendations for action, the exchange between the municipalities should be promoted for prevention and health promotion among socially disadvantaged people. The initiative also shows ways in which existing structures can be better used in the future to better serve socially disadvantaged children. (fp)

Image: Initiative Real Social Market Economy (IESM) / pixelio.de

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