Agree that health is wealth

Education and prosperity are prerequisites for health

Photo: © Peter Atkins -

In the current issue 51/2012, the star shows the large "Health Atlas Germany". Comprehensive data analysis makes it clear: healthy Germans live in places where educated and high-income people can be found. Where people presumably learned early on to take care of their bodies.

Whether it's about the back or the heart: In Germany, people in economically strong regions such as Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg are particularly healthy. This is shown by the star, who took a close look at the regional differences on the subject of health. This is how the longest-lived Germans live in the Munich area - more precisely in the Starnberg district. The analysis clearly shows that education and prosperity are responsible for this.

Life expectancy is highest in the Starnberg district
In the Starnberg district, women and men live significantly longer than in other parts of Germany. There, 60-year-old men still have an average of almost 25 years ahead of them, women even remain almost 27 years. Most of the income millionaires live on Lake Starnberg - and there is the highest density of doctors in Germany. The district is several years above the national average of 21.6 years for 60-year-old men and 25.1 years for women of the same age. The gap between the Methuselah region and the most disadvantaged cities and districts in Germany is even greater. The problem areas include Gelsenkirchen (North Rhine-Westphalia), Pirmasens (RLP) and the district of Jerichower Land (SA).

The statistics, which show pronounced health inequality in the country, are part of a comprehensive analysis of large data sets that the star made for its cover story of issue 51 "Health Atlas Germany". In addition to showing life expectancy, it also contains comprehensive maps on heart disease, back problems, breast and lung cancer and depression. The overview maps show the data of the more than 400 rural districts and cities in Germany. Reporters traveled to the "healthiest" regions to get an idea of ​​what the causes of the respective top placements are.

Hearts beat the longest in Münster and the strongest backs are in Heidelberg
Münster (North Rhine-Westphalia) turned out to be the city with the fewest deaths from heart attacks - and also a metropolis for cyclists. The inhabitants of the city of Heidelberg (BW) are apparently the least tormented by back pain: A young population, a small proportion of hard physical work in favor of an even larger service sector and a high level of health awareness contribute to this.

Lung cancer is rare in Schwabach and Rottweil
A clear relationship between previous smoking behavior and today's lung cancer mortality (most common tumor-related cause of death in men) was shown when looking at the relevant data: The people in the city of Schwabach (BY) and in the Rottweil district (BW) in particular are spared. This is mainly home to groups of the population who, due to their level of education and social position, are not at risk from nicotine addiction: In general, it can be seen that better-off groups smoke less individually and overall for their entire life. Other risk factors for lung cancer can be attributed, for example, to employment in the mining industry and are accordingly distributed regionally.

Breast cancer shows little regional pattern
The map is different for breast cancer: There are hardly any clear regional patterns here. Experts attribute this to the type of tumor responsible for most deaths in women, determined by many risk factors (including hereditary ones). The cities of Zweibrücken (RLP), Weimar (TH) and Offenbach (HE) lead the "healthy" ranking list.

Depression rarely diagnosed on Rügen
Very few depression diagnoses were made on Rügen; In general, eastern German regions stand out in this diagnostic group due to their low number of cases. Conclusions about the actual prevalence of depression are difficult, because in addition to the very different care provided by psychiatrists and psychotherapists, social and mentality differences have a major influence on the number of medically documented cases, especially in this disease field.

To the method
The analysis was based on extensive data sets: With the help of the diagnostic data of all 17.7 million inpatients in the hospital in the past year, the frequency of severe back problems could be determined, the official cause of death statistics of the federal states provided information on those who died of heart disease, lung cancer and breast cancer. The analysis of depression diagnoses was based on a study by the Central Institute for Statutory Health Insurance, which is based on the billing data of all legally insured persons. The number of cases was related to the population of the rural districts and urban districts. Age standardization was deliberately avoided in order to make the influence of the age structure in these regions clear. Around 38,200 values ​​from various sources were included in the analysis, plus more than 6,600 additional information on income and education, for example.

You can read more about the "Health Atlas Germany" in the current issue of stern, 51/2012.

Source: ots, stern, Gruner + Jahr