News and events

Must-read articles about prevention

What’s the most value for money way to tackle obesity? Increase taxes on alcohol

The Conversation, 12 December 2018: A new study released by Dr Gary Sacks and colleagues shows increasing the price of alcohol is the most value for money policy option to prevent obesity in Australia.

Weight surge in young Australians sees 7 in 10 overweight or obese

Fairfax Media, 12 December 2018: Almost seven in 10 Australians are now considered overweight or obese, after a rapid growth in the number of young adults stacking on too much weight, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Children less able to long jump than their parents as study highlights hazards of inactivity

ABC News, 12 December 2018: Australian children cannot jump as far as their parents, according to new research by Active Healthy Kids Australia, and their sporting abilities and participation rates are on the downward slide.

The rise of a new species, the Australian Mamil (middle aged man in lyrca)

Business Insider, 10 December 2018: Science says the number of middle-aged men who cycle on weekends, now considered by many to be a new sub-species of urban Australian dwellers, has doubled in recent years. But the rise of Mamils (middle aged men in lyrca) is confined to more affluent suburbs, according to research published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

One in four breast cancers could be prevented, exhaustive evidence review finds

Fairfax Media, 10 December 2018: One in four breast cancers are potentially preventable, an exhaustive evidence review of a staggering 68 breast cancer risk factors shows. Evidence is mounting that smoking may increase the risk of breast cancer, and the case for recommending a diet rich in vegetables, dairy and calcium is also strengthening, according to the latest data.

Tennis tops list of sports for increasing life expectancy

ABC News, 8 December 2018: Most physical activity is beneficial, but it seems not all sports are equal when it comes to increased life expectancy.

‘Very positive’: Immunisation coverage rates in children hit record high

Fairfax Media, 6 December 2018: More children in Australia are vaccinated than ever before, with the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children closing fast.

Up to a quarter of ED presentations are alcohol-related: Report

RACGP, 6 December 2018: The peak body for emergency medicine in Australia and New Zealand, the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM), has released findings from an ongoing study to identify sources of harm arriving at hospitals that involve alcohol consumption.

Sugar tax, junk food ad bans and star ratings needed to fight obesity: committee

Fairfax Media, 5 December 2018: A Senate committee report has urged the federal government to impose a tax on sugary drinks, mandate Health Star Ratings and ban junk food ads in an effort to tackle rising obesity rates.

Scientists reveal they are on the verge of creating a pill that allows you to eat as much food as you want – without gaining weight

Daily Mail Australia, 5 December 2018: It may sound too good to be true. But scientists believe they could be on the verge of creating a pill that allows you to eat as much as you want – without gaining weight.

Nutri-Grain’s 4-star health rating could be decimated under new plans

Fairfax Media, 2 December 2018: Health star ratings for products could go up or down by as much as 2.5 stars under proposed changes. Here are the winners and losers.

Activity-based funding and prevention: a message for state governments

Croakey, 29 November 2018: Keeping people well and out of hospital should be a primary focus of our health system.  Yet the evidence is that we could do much better in preventing and managing problems in the community, before they require hospital treatment.

Australia has room to improve when it comes to factoring the rights and needs of children into business decisions and supply chains: global assessment

UNICEF Australia, 28 November 2018: UNICEF and The Global Child Forum have released a ‘Children’s Rights and Business Atlas’ that has assessed Australia as having more work to do on indicators measuring business impacts on children across 195 countries and territories. For example, companies are advised of heightened risks in Australia that relate to particularly high rates of obesity in children.

Walking isn’t just good for you, it’s good for the economy — and we’re talking billions

ABC News, 29 November 2018: It’s proven to reduce your risk of heart disease and boost your mental health, but walking is also boosting local economies. Here’s how.

Heatwaves threaten Australians’ health, and our politicians aren’t doing enough about it

The Conversation, 29 November 2018: Extreme heat affects the mental health of Australians to the same degree as unemployment, yet Australia’s policy action on climate change lags behind other high-income countries such as Germany and the United Kingdom.

An ongoing struggle: the obesity dilemma

Australian Journal of Pharmacy, 28 November 2018: Is being overweight or obese really just a matter of personal responsibility – and if not, how can health stakeholders help people lose weight?

Tobacco, gambling and alcohol donations ‘rise during critical debates’

Guardian Australia, 27 November 2018: Australia’s tobacco, gambling and alcohol industries have donated $14m to the major political parties, targeting their gifts during critical policy debates or immediately before elections, a new study has found

Four ways our cities can cut transport emissions in a hurry: avoid, shift, share and improve

Croakey, 27 November 2018: The various strategies to move our cities in the right direction can be grouped into four broad categories: avoid, shift, share, and improve. Major policy, behaviour and technology changes are required to make these strategies work.

Popular pain drug linked to rise in overdoses, suicides

Fairfax Media, 26 November 2018: In the last five years it has become one of Australia’s most popular pharmaceutical drugs, seen by some GPs as a safer alternative to opioid painkillers.

Things that cause cancer are all around us, if you believe the news — how worried should we be?

ABC, 24 November 2018: In 2015, we heard that processed meat was carcinogenic to humans, and red meat probably was too. In 2016, it was “very hot” drinks, but not coffee specifically (thank goodness)…  But what does that really mean — and why are there so many mixed messages about what causes cancer?

SA’s new vaping laws divide anti-tobacco groups as state bans online sale of e-cigarettes

ABC News, 23 November 2018: Anti-tobacco groups are divided over new regulations restricting the sale of e-cigarettes in South Australia which have been described as “draconian”.

Obesity: Researchers identify 4 subtypes

Medical News Today, 23 November 2018: New research suggests that obesity takes different shapes and that the same approach will not work for everyone.

Microbiome dynamics in obesity

Science, 23 November 2018: We have discovered an unexpected role in obesity for temporal and spatial dynamics of the intestinal microbiome—the community of trillions of microorganisms that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract.

Nanny state debate in WA Parliament has bike helmets and vaping high on agenda

ABC News, 22 November 2018: Laws relating to bicycle helmets, pool fences, electronic cigarettes and even life jackets are being assessed against the perception that Western Australia is a nanny state.

Words from Arnhem land: Aboriginal health messages need to be made with us rather than for us

The Conversation, 22 November 2018: Australian First Nations people waiting for appointments at Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations around the country will now see culturally relevant and locally produced content on the waiting room TVs.

Recommendations from #ATSISPC18: calls to action

Croakey, 22 November 2018: The second National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference closed on Wednesday. Conference convenor Professor Pat Dudgeon, who is from the Bardi people of the Kimberley area in Western Australia, closed the national event with the presentation of a list of recommendations developed over the two days of sessions.

Alcohol-Related Deaths Are On the Rise with Death Rate of Women Increasing Dramatically

Fortune, 21 November 2018: Alcohol related deaths are on a sharp rise in the United States, according to new research published by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, first reported by USA Today.

Fat or no fat? More research needed, doctors say

Cosmos, 19 November 2018: The scientific community really doesn’t know the best way to balance lipids and carbs, doctors writing in the journal Science conclude.

Closing the Gap strategy: Indigenous groups say partnership plea ignored ahead of deadline

ABC News, 19 November 2018: Exasperated peak Aboriginal bodies are repeating a call for a greater input into the Government’s refresh of its Closing the Gap strategy

60 Minutes: Study revealing there is no ‘safe level of drinking’ could destroy an Aussie tradition

9News, 18 November 2018: A landmark new study published in the most respected medical journal in the world, the Lancet, has confirmed one of our greatest fears – that there is no safe limit for alcohol and that just one glass could be deadly.

The jury is still out on whether omega-3 supplements reduce heart attacks

The Conversation, 16 November 2018: A recent widely reported study has reignited debate around whether omega-3 supplements reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. But before you buy fish oil supplements from the local pharmacy, there are some things to be aware of.

Premature births could be prevented by omega-3 consumption, Australian research confirms

ABC News, 16 November 2018: Adelaide researchers have now confirmed a “simple and cost-effective” way to help prevent premature births and their associated health complication.

Census 2021 questions: internet access out, chronic health in

The Mandarin, 15 November 2018: The ABS is reviewing the topics for the next census to reflect a changing Australia.

Chart of the day: Half the world’s deaths are from four preventable factors

ABC, 14 November 2018: Of all the things that killed people last year, more than half of deaths are attributed to just four preventable risk factors: high blood pressure, smoking, high blood glucose and high body mass index (BMI), according to a series of reports published in The Lancet.

Study strengthens evidence of link between obesity and depression

Fairfax Media, 13 November 2018: A large Australian-UK study has found the strongest evidence to date that obesity causes depression.

Tobacco stocks slump after report says the FDA is considering a ban on menthol cigarettes

Business Insider13 November 2018: Tobacco stocks were slammed on Monday following a report the Food and Drug Administration is going after menthol cigarettes, which the investment firm Jefferies says represents 34% of the total US cigarette market.

The Tobacco endgame

Australian Journal of Pharmacology (blog), 9 November 2018: Could restricting tobacco sales to only pharmacies, combined with cessation advice in these settings, accelerate progress towards a tobacco-free future?

In tackling our physical inactivity pandemic, we risk ignoring those who need the most help

The Conversation, 8 November 2018: It’s good news that the world’s inactivity problem is at last on the agenda. But unless we get the prescription right, we could be increasing health inequalities and shoring up an even bigger problem for generations to come.

Pain isn’t just physical: why many are using painkillers for emotional relief

The Conversation, 8 November 2018: Australians are increasingly using prescription or over-the-counter painkillers to ease emotional, rather than physical, pain. Our cultural understanding of pain is changing, and as a result it’s becoming more difficult to distinguish intoxication from relief.

No butts – it’s time to help people with mental health conditions quit smoking

The Conversation, 7 November 2018: Smoking rates are high among Australians with a mental illness. Quitting is likely to improve their physical and mental health; supporting them to do so should be part of mental health care.

‘Contradictory’: NSW government tackling obesity while taking junk food cash

Fairfax Media, 7 November 2018: Cancer Council NSW said the government was sending out a ‘contradictory’ message by spending $25 million this financial year on tackling childhood obesity but taking money from junk food advertisers.

Childhood exercise can reverse negative health effects caused by father’s obesity

Medical Xpress, 7 November 2018: Exercise in childhood has been shown to promote long-lasting health and can counteract the risk of developing diabetes that comes from having an obese father.

Alcohol recognised as leading cause of harm at global safety conference

Fairfax Media, 7 November 2018: Global safety experts meeting in Bangkok on Wednesday agreed to recognise that harmful alcohol use contributes to morbidity, injury and violence in all types of injuries.

Physical activity gains global momentum at the #ISPAH2018 Congress

Croakey, 6 November 2018: Bill Bellew reflects further on the highlights of the 7th International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH) Congress in London a few weeks ago.

The public health lobby wants to introduce a ‘meat tax’. Don’t bet against it

The Spectator, 6 November 2018: Nobody who has witnessed the unstoppable rise of the ‘public health’ movement over the last two decades can dismiss the possibility of a meat tax being introduced in the foreseeable future, probably followed by an advertising ban and graphic warnings.

As Australia works towards a national obesity strategy, here’s something we prepared earlier

Croakey, 5 November 2018: As we await the findings and recommendations of the Senate Select Committee into the Obesity Epidemic in Australia, due to be handed down late this month, there’s been some welcome news from a recent COAG Health Council meeting.

Public health: making the most of ‘citizen science’

MJA InSight, 5 November 2018: The Prevention Centre is pioneering a study on breastfeeding which will explore how citizen science can best inform health policy making.

Do public health campaigns work?

BBC News, 5 November 2018: It’s very difficult to directly link the perceived success or failure of public health campaigns with outcomes, says the BBC’s Reality Check team.

Indigenous Australians dying from heart disease at far greater rate than non-Indigenous, report shows

ABC, 1 November 2018: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are dying from heart disease at twice, and in some regions, triple the rate of non-Indigenous people in the same communities, according to new data from the Heart Foundation.

Ensuring children get enough physical activity while being safe is a delicate balancing act

The Conversation, 29 October 2018: Child injury prevention programs may seek to limit risky play. But is the consequence of this a negative impact on children’s physical activity, motor skill development and mental health and well-being?

Considering the commercial determinants in all aspects of public health

Croakey, 30 October 2018: It’s a familiar concept that the commercial drivers in life, and consumerism in particular, have a largely unhealthy impact on our lives. But those striving to control tobacco, and those working against alcohol advertising, and those struggling against the monoliths of the food industry, haven’t always had a coherent framework in which to see how closely their interests align.

Canada Is Considering Cancer Warning Labels Printed on Individual Cigarettes

Fortune, 31 October 2018: Canada could become the first nation in the world to put a cancer warning label on every single cigarette sold in the country, according to a government document.

Stress protein could be used to prevent childhood obesity in males

Medical Xpress, 31 October 2018: New research published in The Journal of Physiology identifies a novel protein that reduces the likelihood of obesity and related metabolic disorders in boys.