News and events

Must-read articles about prevention

Pill testing trial for Groovin the Moo given go-ahead after spate of festival deaths

ABC, 19 February 2019: Festival-goers will again be able to get their illicit drugs checked for dangerous substances at this year’s Groovin the Moo music festival in Canberra, after the ACT Government signed off on a trial being held inside the festival gates.

Heavy smoking can damage vision

ScienceDaily, 18 February 2019: Smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day can damage your vision, a study co-authored by a Rutgers researcher finds.

No wine. No code. No playlist. Is spotify’s alcohol advertising tone deaf?

SBS, 18 February 2019: There’s been a long term push to ban alcohol advertising in Australian sport. Should the same scrutiny be applied to streaming platforms like Spotify?

Men who can do more than 40 push-ups have 96 per cent lower risk of heart disease

News.com.au, 15 February 2019: A Harvard study, published in JAMA Network Open, suggests dropping to the floor and showing your doctor how many you can do may be a better predictor of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes than traditional treadmill tests.

In one corner of Sydney, hope rises as the gap closes

SMH, 15 February 2019: Front-page tribute to the terrific work being done by the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, based in Airds, near Campbelltown.

‘We’ve lost our way’: dietitians call for new nutrition guidelines

Brisbane Times, 12 February 2019: The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) has released a report examining the cost of poor nutrition to Australians’ health, calling on the government to update its National Nutrition Policy.

Former Northern Territory smokers who quit cigarettes worried by new vaping laws

ABC Online, 12 February 2019: Sarah Gayford is one of hundreds of vapers in the Northern Territory who say they quit smoking tobacco with the help of vapes or e-cigarettes.

Do we really need to take 10,000 steps a day? 

SMH, 11 February 2019: We often hear 10,000 as the golden number of steps to strive for in a day. But do we really need to take 10,000 steps a day?

Obesity prevention and management 

NewsGP, 11 February 2019: A new RACGP position statement emphasises the role that general practice plays in the prevention and management of obesity.

Screen time blamed for kids’ leap backwards in jumping and movement skills

The West Australian, 10 February 2019: The physical decline of Aussie kids has been laid bare by alarming research showing they are losing the ability to jump and are among the world’s worst at throwing, kicking and running.

Mindful eating: the Victorian food trend that could help you lose weight and transform your health

The Conversation, 7 February 2019: In recent years, mindfulness  has become embedded into our everyday language. Mindfulness has helped many people to develop the skills necessary to manage chronic pain, depressionanxiety, stress and sleeping disorders. It has also become a popular way to change eating behaviours under the term “mindful eating”.

Bold recommendation for free ‘preventative’ psychology sessions

SMH, 7 February 2019: Australians would be able to access up to 10 Medicare-funded sessions with a psychologist without being diagnosed with a mental disorder, under sweeping changes recommended by a federal government review.

Hawaii bill aims to raise smoking age to 100

SMH, 6 February 2019: Lawmakers in Hawaii have proposed legislation that would begin phasing out cigarettes in the state, banning them altogether within five year. At least, for people younger than 100.

‘Extremely concerning’: state urged to ban junk food advertising

SMH, 4 February 2019: Pressure is mounting on the NSW government to ban junk food advertisements on public transport, with new research showing children who catch the bus or train to school are exposed to 4.5 ads spruiking chips, donuts and ice cream per trip.

Want to improve your mood? It’s time to ditch the junk food

The Conversation, 4 February 2019: Medication and talking therapies are key to treating depression but eating a range of nutritious foods can also play a role in boosting our mood.

Addressing obesity without sacrificing complexity and equity: a policy case study

Croakey, 3 January 2019: A new Australian study has shown that complexity need not be a barrier to developing programs to address obesity. This study, ‘How does whole of government action address inequities in obesity? A case study from Australia’ was undertaken by Melanie Pescud, Ginny Sargent, Paul Kelly and Sharon Friel and was recently published in the International Journal for Equity in Health.

Thoughts of death: doctors can’t predict who will suicide by asking

Fairfax Media, 1 February 2019: Most people who died of suicide deny they experience suicidal thoughts to their doctors, a major study shows.

Trying to quit? Vaping almost twice as effective as nicotine patches and gum, study finds

ABC, 31 January 2019: After a one-year trial, nearly 20 per cent of people using e-cigarettes containing nicotine were still smoke-free. But with long-term effects unknown, Australia is yet to legalise them.

New data shows growing health gap between rich and poor

Fairfax Media, 31 January 2019: A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has prompted calls for improvements to the safety net for poorer people.

Climate change is the “new tobacco”: what health professionals can do to play their part

Croakey, 30 January 2019: The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) declaration that air pollution is the ‘new tobacco’ highlights the urgent need for the industrial world to reduce the use of coal fired electricity.

The three biggest threats to humanity revealed in Lancet report

Fairfax Media, 28 January 2019: Obesity, undernutrition and climate change are the biggest threats to the world population, driven by profit motives and policy inertia, top international experts warn. The Lancet’s Commission on Obesity has called for a binding plan and trillions of dollars to thwart the dangers of unsustainable agricultural production, transport, urban design and land use.

$22.9 Million investment to get older Australians more active

Media release, 28 January 2019: Twenty-seven organisations will share in an investment of almost $23 million by the Liberal &
Nationals Government aimed at getting millions of older Australians moving more often.

New study offers ‘strongest evidence’ yet that exercise helps prevent depression 

ABC, 23 January 2019: A new study published in JAMA Psychiatry provides the “strongest evidence” yet that exercise has a protective effect against depression.

Soft drinks targeted with graphic images of tooth decay in new health campaign

ABC, 22 January 2019: A new public health campaign that mocks the glamour of soft drink advertisements is urging Australians to consider the impact of sugary drinks on their teeth.

What’s behind the increase in bowel cancer among younger Australians?

The Conversation, 22 January 2019: Bowel cancer mostly affects people over the age of 50, but recent evidence suggests it’s on the rise among younger Australians.

Australian doctor leading global campaign against big tobacco

ABC, 22 January 2019: It might surprise you to know the global finance industry still works hand-in-glove with the tobacco industry. Big insurers insure it, big banks lend to it, and many superannuation funds invest their members’ money in it. Melbourne oncologist Dr Bronwyn King is on a mission to change all that.

E-Cigs Face ‘Existential Threat’ Over Teen Smoking

Gizmodo, 21 January 2019: FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says that all e-cigarettes face an “existential threat” if they won’t take measures to combat the rising number of kids smoking.

Big Tobacco Finds ‘Tiny Targets’ in School Children, New Study Reveals

NewsClick (India), 21 January 2019: The study conducted in 243 schools across 6 states revealed that while 34% of the points of sale displayed tobacco advertisements, over 90% of these were at a child’s eye level, and used tactics to attract children.

Demand for non-alcoholic beverages on the rise as Australians drink less

ABC, 18 January 2019: Australia’s love affair with alcohol appears to be waning, with more young people choosing to give up the booze.

How to feed a growing population healthy food without ruining the planet

The Conversation, 17 January 2019: If we’re serious about feeding the world’s growing population healthy food, and not ruining the planet, we need to get used to a new style of eating. This includes cutting our Western meat and sugar intakes by around 50%, and doubling the amount of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes we consume, writes Alessandro Demaio.

Pilbara divided over harsh new alcohol restrictions

ABC, 16 January 2019: Hundreds of unhappy locals in the Pilabra have vented their anger on social media following news the thirsty region will become the first in the state to introduce region-wide restrictions from the end of March.

Inclusion the key to improved health for people with a disability

Croakey, 15 January 2019: VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter explores what can be done to improve outcomes and the lived experience of  people with disability, an effort at which inclusion, collaboration and empowerment must be at the heart.

Six claims about pill testing — and whether or not they’re true

ABC, 15 January 2019: The pill testing debate seems louder than ever. We look at recent claims from politicians, commentators and experts — and put them to the test.

Nicotine found in ‘nicotine-free’ e-cigarette liquids sold in Australia, study finds

ABC, 14 January 2019: Nicotine, the addictive agent found in tobacco cigarettes, is discovered in a number of e-cigarette liquids claiming to be free of it, according to a new study.

Driven to drink: Australian-first study sheds more light on factors influencing youth drinking

FARE, 14 January 2019: Stop marketing alcohol to children on television and you would reduce youth drinking. That’s the finding from a new longitudinal research study on the push/pull factors that influence adolescents’ drinking behaviours, which found that alcohol advertising exposure directly influences and encourages adolescents to engage in risky drinking.

The link between alcohol ads and risky drinking in Australian teens

Fairfax Media, 14 January 2019: A study of thousands of Australian high school students over more than 10 years has found that exposure to alcohol advertising encourages them to participate in “risky drinking” behaviours.

Should obesity be labelled a disease?

Yahoo News (UK), 12 January 2019: The Royal College of Physicians called for obesity to be reclassified as a disease, claiming the change was necessary in order for the issue to be tackled effectively by healthcare professionals.

Coca-Cola influences China’s obesity policy, BMJ report says

The Guardian, 10 January 2019: The Coca-Cola Company has shaped China’s policies towards its growing obesity crisis, encouraging a focus on exercise rather than diet and thereby safeguarding its drinks sales, an academic investigation has alleged.

Here’s why doctors are backing pill testing at music festivals across Australia

The Conversation, 8 January 2019: There are arguments against pill testing. But none are as compelling or evidence-based as the arguments for it.

Survey: Flavored Tobacco Product Use Rises in Teens; Increase driven by flavored e-cigarettes

MedPage Today (US), 7 January 2019: Self-reported use of flavored tobacco products among middle- and high-school students in the U.S. increased in 2017, reversing a downward trend from previous years, according to data from the annual National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS).

What’s the minimum amount of exercise you need to stay healthy?

ABC, 7 January 2019: It’s possible to get results without slogging away for hours each day.

Depression, anxiety as risky as smoking and obesity: study

Pharmacy News, 7 January 2019: Depression and anxiety are on a par with obesity and smoking when it comes to risk factors for future physical health, US research shows.

Obesity is a national obsession, not a disease

The Times (UK), 7 January 2019: We should stop medicalising lifestyle choices as it makes no sense to talk of an epidemic of overeating.

UK hospitals to host dedicated alcohol teams under new NHS plan

The Drinks Business, 7 January 2019: The NHS is to set up dedicated alcohol teams in 50 hospitals in England to treat problem drinkers as part of raft of new measures unveiled by the government.

As we look to 2019, how can we best stand up for health?

Croakey, 6 January 2019:  Last October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that we have approximately 12 years – or just 4,380 days – to take meaningful action to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C, to limit climate change catastrophe. We have already used up about 92 days of that time.

Qatar introduces 100 per cent ‘sin tax’, doubling price of alcohol overnight

news.com.au, 3 January 2019: World Cup 2022 host Qatar has introduced a massive tax on alcohol, doubling the price overnight after rolling out its ‘sin tax’ on January 1.

‘Dry January’ Helps People Lay Off Alcohol Even Months Later, Study Finds

Gizmodo, 3 January 2019: A study found that UK residents who tried to abstain from alcohol for the month of January in 2018 – as part of a public health campaign called “Dry January” – continued to drink less eight months later.

Weight loss ‘lectures’ from doctors could contribute to delayed diagnoses, advocates say

ABC, 28 December 2018: Doctors lecturing overweight and obese patients with what is known as “the talk” could be causing poor care and delayed diagnoses, as the fear of stigma deters some from seeing their GP, consumer advocates say.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi tells Egyptians to lose weight, and TV to snub those ‘overweight’

ABC, 26 December 2018: Egypt has the world’s highest rate of obesity, but the President’s comments have not landed well, with many people pointing out the country’s inequities when it comes to fresh food.

‘Increased harm’: The push to ban sales of $1.50 alcohol via Afterpay

Fairfax Media, 24 December 2018: Vulnerable people are being lured into buying alcohol by extremely low upfront costs made possible by the boom in “buy now pay later” services, according to health groups calling for government intervention.

Drug experts say yes. Many politicians say no. What’s the evidence for pill testing?

ABC, 21 December 2018: Calls for pill testing are regularly ignited, and summarily rejected, following suspected drug overdoses at music festivals. But how does pill testing work? And what’s the case for introducing it in Australia?

While politicians refuse to act, Australians become more overweight

Fairfax Media, 18 December 2018: Despite health experts offering solutions, politicians have failed to act on Australia’s snowballing obesity crisis, leaving us in the grip of a silent epidemic.

School-based nutritional programs reduce student obesity

ScienceDaily, 17 December 2018: In-school nutrition policies and programs that promote healthier eating habits among middle school students limit increases in body mass index (BMI), a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

Children’s health hit for six as industry fails to regulate alcohol ads

The Conversation, 17 December 2018: We assessed the potential impact of rules introduced by the alcohol industry in November 2017 to regulate the placement of alcohol advertising. We found these rules have so far been unlikely to protect young people, while most complaints directed to the regulator have been dismissed.

Teens are turning away from cigarettes and alcohol and toward vaping

The Verge, 17 December 2018: Teens in the US are better-behaved than ever when it comes to alcohol and drugs, but seem to have turned to vaping as their vice of choice, according to results from a nationally representative survey of adolescent drug use.

Big tobacco and big business are getting into bed with cannabis … big time

The New Daily, 16 December 2018: A move by one of the largest tobacco companies in the United States to buy half of cannabis company Cronos for $US1.8 billion ($2.5 billion) this week signals the gold rush into the marijuana industry is booming. Altria, which owns Philip Morris – maker of Marlboro, Benson & Hedges, Alpine and a host of other cigarette brands – is desperately trying to replace sliding sales as smoking, and smokers, literally die out.

The complex problem of obesity

Fairfax Media, 15 December 2018: More than a million children and 7 in 10 Australian adults are overweight or obese. (Video)

‘A disturbing complacency’: We’re losing focus on tobacco control

Fairfax Media, 14 December 2018: Cancer campaigners want the NSW government to ban tobacco vending machines, slap a licensing regime on cigarette sellers and strengthen smoke-free environment laws in a bid to save lives.

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.