2021 DKV Report: Record negative results for a healthy lifestyle

Germans are under greater stress and deal with it more poorly. Those from Saxony are the healthiest, while North Rhine-Westphalia residents are the least healthy

Media Information, 11.10.2021

Even though the 2,800 surveyed for this year’s DKV report generally report their health status as good or very good, a closer inspection of their lifestyle suggests otherwise. Thus only eleven percent of the Germans surveyed reached the benchmark for a healthy life in the five areas surveyed: physical activity, nutrition, smoking, alcohol and stress. This is the lowest result since surveys began in 2010 (16 percent in 2018).

DKV-Report 2021

The DKV Deutsche Krankenversicherung AG [German Health Insurance] and the German Sports College of Cologne have examined the health and activity behaviour of Germans for the sixth time. The representative survey made it clear that Germans are less active than ever since the first survey in 2010. Never have so many remained inactive this year - sitting 8.5 hours per day, one hour longer than in 2018. Of particular concern is that young adults are sitting even more, an average of 10.5 hours per workday, mostly while working or on the computer (2018: 8 hours, 41 minutes).

“Germans are growing ever more sluggish,” says Clemens Muth, Chairman of the DKV. "We as health insurers regard this development with great concern. Activity is key for good health. Less sitting, whether at work, during leisure time or when driving, more walking and running. Getting up and moving regularly makes the difference.”

The Covid-19 pandemic affected sitting behaviour, and Germans also suffered from stress. Only 40 percent of those surveyed (2018: 57 percent) said that they perceived lower stress or used effective strategies to deal with their everyday stresses.

“The last one and a half years have caused many changes in how people live. In addition to the new situation with permanent home offices, many professionals and families have conducted home schooling, which was a big change in everyday life. It took a lot of energy for many people,” says Ingo Froböse, Professor at the German Sports College in Cologne, and the scientific director of these studies. “We must learn how to prevent stress and how we can compensate, both as individuals and as a society.”

Results summary

Saxony took the top position in overall healthy Living
Saxony is the leader among German states in healthy living. In Saxony, 18 percent of those interviewed, nearly one in five, met all benchmarks. This year the worst results were seen in North Rhine-Westphalia (seven percent), which was well under the German average of 11 percent.

Berlin and Brandenburg have active People
The people with the most physical activity are found in Berlin and Brandenburg. Altogether, 76 percent of Berliners and 74 percent of Brandenburgers reached the activity benchmark for endurance-oriented movement. Hesse is just over the German average of 70.4 percent at 71.5 percent, North Rhine-Westphalia at 71 percent, and Lower Saxony/Bremen at 70.8 percent. Those from Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia were the least active. At 64 and 63 percent, they were the least physically active.

Brandenburgers and those in Hesse sit a lot
Those from Brandenburg and Hesse sit more than those in any other region in Germany. They sit for nine hours and three minutes every day. Those in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania sit the least, at seven hours and 47 minutes. This is still a relatively long time to sit.

Unhealthy eating is an issue in southern Germany.
There is a clear gap in nutritional behaviour in southern Germany as compared to the rest of the country. While 57 percent of residents in Saxony-Anhalt say that they eat healthy food, Baden-Württemberg residents are the worst at 40 percent. Bavarians are also low at 42 percent, as contrasted with Thuringia, Berlin and Schleswig-Holstein, where a balanced diet is more important. Each of those states are at the average for Germany of about 50 percent.

Ships aren't the only things puffing in Schleswig-Holstein
Barely a quarter of Germans smoke cigarettes. Schleswig-Holstein has the most smokers. 30 percent of their residents smoke cigarettes. In Saxony, smoking is “out”. 89 percent of Saxons surveyed said that they were non-smokers. But the numbers were also low in other states. Rhineland-Palatinate/Saarland was at 84 percent, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania 80 percent, and Hesse and Hamburg 79 percent.

Alcohol consumption in Germany is moderately pronounced
People from Lower Saxony/Bremen had the most moderate alcohol consumption at 91 percent. Also, Berlin and Hamburg were in the forefront (84 percent). Those in Saxony-Anhalt were the biggest drinkers. Only 78 percent of their residents met the criteria for moderate alcohol consumption.

German resistance to stress? A problem.
One can hardly say that Germans deal with stress in a healthy way this year. 60 percent of those surveyed feel stressed and did not have an effective strategy to deal with it.
People from Hamburg, Rhineland-Palatinate/Saarland (each 49 percent), Saxony (48 percent) and the coastal areas of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein (47 percent) most frequently met the benchmark for dealing with stress in a healthy manner, but still only one in two were able to do so. And yet, a healthy way to deal with stress is enormously important. Those surveyed in Lower Saxony/Bremen, Hesse, Thuringia (each 36 percent) and North Rhine-Westphalia (32 percent) were able to deal with stressful situations.


Ipsos surveyed altogether 2800 people from March 23 to May 7, 2021 for the 2021 DKV Report to determine lifestyles across Germany. Some of those surveyed were asked this year to give a self-assessment in the framework of the guideline and computer-supported telephone interviews. At least 200 citizens were interviewed in each German state (Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland as well as Lower Saxony and Bremen were combined). Prof Dr Ingo Froböse from the German Sports College of Cologne was the scientific director of the survey.


One can find the 2021 DKV Report as well as graphics and further information at www.ergo.com/dkv-report (German version).

For further information, please contact:

Jan Fulle

Media Relations

Tel +49 211 477-8518

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