News and events

Must-read articles about prevention

Blood type, Pioppi, gluten-free and Mediterranean – which popular diets are fads?

The Conversation, 23 October 2018: Each year, new weight loss diets appear that promise to reveal the ultimate secret of success – if only you buy the book, pills or potions. Fad diets might achieve short-term results but they are difficult to sustain in the long term.

Digital diagnosis: How your smartphone or wearable device could forecast illness

The Conversation, 23 October 2018: What if you could forecast sickness, before you even had any symptoms? Your smartphone and digital data might be able to help.

Health Check: how much physical activity is enough in older age?

The Conversation, 22 October 2018: We all know making physical activity a regular habit is important for health and well-being. But health promotion messages are often aimed at children and young people, with less focus on the importance of physical activity for older people. However, older age is a crucial time for being active every day.

The power of peer support: How sharing lived experience of mental illness offers ‘a different kind of hope’

ABC, 21 October 2018: In recent years, the sharing of lived experience has been recognised as an increasingly important, complementary aspect of mental health treatment and recovery.

Think shisha is safe? You’ve inhaled the equivalent of 200 cigarettes

Fairfax Media, 19 October 2018: Don’t be fooled by its fruity flavours. Smoking shisha for one hour is equivalent to inhaling the volume of smoke from 100 to 200 cigarettes.

What government interventions work to support carers of people with dementia?

The Mandarin, 18 October 2018: Governments will either need to come up with new untested ideas, or adopt interventions of less certain effectiveness, if they intend to rely on supporting carers of people with dementia to prevent or delay entry into residential aged care.

The Politics of Prevention

Croakey, 17 October 2018: Australia’s innovative preventive health agency was closed down by the Abbott government. How — and in what form — should it be revived? Melissa Sweet explores some of the options.

In the wake of UN meeting, what will it take to step up global action on chronic diseases?

Croakey, 16 October 2018: The much-anticipated United Nations High-Level Meeting on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) has disappointed many health leaders, with concerns raised about a lack of high-level political engagement, as well as a lack of teeth and ambition in the meeting’s declaration.

Policies to limit marketing of unhealthy foods to children fall short

World Health Organization, 15 October 2018: A WHO report finds that many policies aimed at food marketing to children are poorly designed, exposing children to promotion of foods high in fats, salt and sugar.

Four strategies for improving knowledge exchange among scientists and decision-makers

Integration and Implementation Insights, 16 October 2018: Although there are grounds for optimism in knowledge exchange, there is much that we still don’t know.

Public health scare tactics: do they work?

Croakey, 15 October 2018: In a word: yes, says a review of the recent literature.

Youth mental health gets funding boost as demand for services spikes

The Guardian, 14 October 2018: Australia’s mental health services will receive a $52m boost in an attempt to cut waiting times for desperate teenagers struggling with anxiety or depression.

Alcohol labels warning of risk from drinking while pregnant ‘will save lives’

The Guardian, 12 October 2018: Alcohol producers will be forced to label their products with warnings relating to the risks of drinking during pregnancy in an agreement reached by Australian and New Zealand ministers.

Big tobacco’s smoke and mirrors act

The Financial Review, 12 October 2018: The tobacco industry is in crisis, and has to redefine itself if it intends to survive.

Focusing on people at ‘high risk’ of suicide has failed as a suicide prevention strategy

The Conversation, 12 October 2018: Many current suicide prevention interventions focus on raising awareness of suicide or on preventing it only at the point just prior to it occurring. But despite decades of government investment in suicide awareness programs, the rate of deaths by suicide in Australia is the second highest it’s been in ten years. Clearly, we must expand our efforts.

Physical activity has health benefits for smokers, regardless of air pollution levels

Medical Xpress, 12 October 2018: Regular physical activity is associated with better lung function among current smokers in European cities, regardless of air pollution levels. This is the main conclusion of a new study comprising over 4,500 people from nine European countries, led by the Barcelona Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal).

Obesity epidemic is fuelled by ‘truth decay’

ABC, 11 October 2018: Obesity has crept up on Australia over a number of years and is due to a number of factors. Not least among them is the pervasive influence the food industry has wielded over researchers, policy makers and consumers.

Eating disorders, youth and Indigenous mental illness priorities of $125m government mission

Fairfax Media, 10 October 2018: Health Minister Greg Hunt has acknowledged the “alarming” effects these three areas have on the Australian population.

NRL fans see triple the alcohol ads of AFL fans during finals TV coverage

ABC, 10 October 2018: Fans watching the 2018 NRL grand final on TV were exposed to more than three times as much alcohol advertising as those who watched the AFL grand final, according to analysis of the weekend’s coverage by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE).

Coalition launches mental health inquiry as Labor accuses it of playing ‘catch-up’

The Guardian, 7 October 2018: The federal government has commissioned an inquiry into mental illness and its impact on the economy, saying it wants to know whether Australia’s mental health funding is delivering the best possible outcomes.

New suicide statistics paint a bleak picture

SBS, 4 October 2018: ABS figures show suicide is up 21% over the past decade in Indigenous communities.

Labor denounces big tobacco’s push to overturn Australia’s vaping ban

The Guardian, 4 October 2018: Tanya Plibersek says there’s still no evidence to support e-cigarettes.

Beyond muddling through, here is a three-point plan for rescuing public health

Croakey, 4 October 2018: Why do governments and health ministers fail so consistently to implement evidence that clearly shows how they could act to save lives and prevent suffering? Rohan Greenland outlines a rescue plan for public health.

Health split not a fix but good step forward: Fitzharris

SMH, 2 October 2018: The ACT government announced on Tuesday the split of ACT Health into two organisations a success despite being only two days into the restructure.

Crematoriums, caskets and cemeteries adapt as obesity crisis impacts funeral industry

ABC online, 2 October 2018: Hospitals have already modified furniture and fittings to accommodate the needs of larger patients, and now the national obesity epidemic is driving change in the funeral and cemetery sectors.

Half of women ‘will develop dementia or Parkinson’s or have a stroke’

The Guardian, 2 October 2018: One in two women will develop dementia or Parkinson’s disease, or have a stroke, in their lifetime, new research suggests.

ACT ‘heavily reliant’ on public health funds

The Canberra Times, 29 September 2018: The ACT is far more heavily reliant on government health funding compared to the rest of the country, a new report has revealed.

More evidence that nutrition studies don’t always add up

New York Times, 29 September 2018: A Cornell food scientist’s downfall could reveal a bigger problem in nutrition research.

WHO launches new tool showing the value of investing in NCD prevention and management

WHO online, 27 September 2018: A new WHO tool was launched yesterday which shows country-specific data on investment opportunities for scaling up intervention to prevent and treat NCDs in low- and lower-middle-income countries.

Just because you’re thin, doesn’t mean you’re healthy

The Conversation, 27 September 2018: When considering risk factors associated with heart disease and stroke or cancer, we often think about health indicators such as smoking, cholesterol, blood pressure, and body weight. But poor diet and physical inactivity also each increase the risk for heart disease and have a role to play in the development of some cancers.

The country where a quarter of all deaths are due to booze (and how we compare)

ABC, 27 September 2018: If you thought Aussies hit the bottle a bit too hard, then spare a thought for the small country of Moldova.

Eating junk food raises risk of depression, says multi-country study

The Guardian, 26 September 2018: Eating junk food increases the risk of becoming depressed, a study has found, prompting calls for doctors to routinely give dietary advice to patients as part of their treatment for depression.

The NT is putting a minimum floor price on alcohol, because evidence shows this works to reduce harm

The Conversation, 25 September 2018: From October 1, 2018, one standard drink in the Northern Territory will cost a minimum of A$1.30.

Getting beyond ‘did it work?’: a new approach to integrating research and policy

Brookings Institute, 25 September 2018: Too often, researchers are unwilling to answer questions that have not been answered with causal research—or to make policy recommendations at all.

New research shows air pollution might be linked to increased dementia risk

Consumer Affairs, 25 September 2018: Large study finds people who lived in areas with higher nitrogen oxide levels were 40% more likely to be diagnosed with dementia

Loneliness hurts more than our feelings — and it could be our next public health crisis

ABC, 21 September 2018: An analysis of Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) data from 2001 to 2017 has found more than one in six people report feeling lonely in any given year — and a staggering 1.5 million people have been lonely for a decade or more.

GJ Wholesale spirits that ‘could cause injury’ recalled from NSW, Queensland and the ACT

ABC, 20 September 2018: A company at the centre of an ABC investigation into the liquor industry has recalled several of its spirit brands, warning they could “cause injury if consumed”.

Eating foods with low nutritional quality ratings linked to cancer risk in large European cohort

Medical Xpress, 20 September 2018: The consumption of foods with higher scores on the British Food Standards Agency nutrient profiling system (FSAm-NPS), reflecting a lower nutritional quality, is associated with an increased risk of developing cancer, according to a study published this week in PLOS Medicine.

Should doctors just put patients on Weight Watchers?

Fairfax Media, 19 September 2018: A Sydney University study has found it could be more economically effective for the heathcare system to fund patients’ participation in commercial diet programs like Weight Watchers than for GPs to provide standard care.

Genes, joules or gut bugs: which one is most to blame when it comes to weight gain?

The Conversation, 18 September 2018: With obesity on the rise, so too is the diet and weight loss industry, currently valued at US$70 billion in the US alone. But most of us are still confused about the factors that lead to weight gain.

Daily low-dose aspirin doesn’t reduce heart-attack risk in healthy people

The Conversation, September 17 2018: A study of 19 000 Australians and Americans finds daily low-dose aspirin doesn’t preserve good health or delay the onset of dementia. But it does increase the risk of major bleeding.

7 ways to prevent and manage childhood obesity

University of Sydney, 17 September 2018: An examination of existing literature to determine contemporary approaches to the prevention and management of paediatric obesity in Australia was conducted by researchers Professor Louise Baur and Dr Seema Mihrshahi from the Centre of Research Excellence in the Early Prevention of Obesity in Childhood (CRE-EPOCH) based and Dr Megan Gow from the Children’s Hospital at Westmead and published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Why it’s time for a meat tax

New Statesman, 17 September 2018: Excessive meat consumption can cause cancer, affects antibiotic effectiveness and damages the environment, argues a columnist. If sugar can be taxed, why not meat?

Here’s what’s going on inside your veins after you drink a soft drink

Fairfax Media, 17 September 2018: A clever new study nicely illustrates that while you’re feeling good an hour after you finish a soft drink, strange things are going on inside your blood vessels – and in the long run they are not good for you.

Protecting our children from obesity: challenges and opportunities

MJA, 17 September 2018: Despite the threat of shorter lifespan for the first time in generations, Australian policy makers remain reluctant to protect our children from increasing levels of obesity. Yet the reasons for this crisis and the need to act, especially on the aggressive marketing of energy-dense food and drink, are both well understood.

The simple question MPs opposed to pill testing should ask themselves

Fairfax Media, 16 September 2018: How long can political leaders continue to delude themselves that their stern warnings prevent young people from taking drugs at youth music events? How long can they continue to claim, against the evidence, that saturation policing assisted by sniffer dogs substantially reduces the availability of drugs at these events?

Rising smoking rates prompt government action

9 News, 16 September 2018: The smoking rate in South Australia has defied national trends to jump, prompting the government to look at options to curb the habit. The government and Cancer Council revealed the state’s smoking rate had risen 1.6 percent from last year, to 16.5 percent of people aged 15 years and older.

Healthy eating program to fight country town’s ‘tsunami’ of chronic disease

ABC, 15 September 2018: Three years ago you would have been hard pressed to find a wholemeal salad roll in the western Victorian shire of Yarriambiack. But the community has been working to turn back the tide, of what they describe as a potential “tsunami of chronic disease”.

PHE urged to rethink campaign linked to alcohol industry

The Guardian, 13 September 2018:  More than 40 experts have written to the government’s public health agency to oppose its tie-up with a charity funded by the alcohol industry for the Drink Free Days campaign.

US considers ban on flavoured e-cigarettes as it grapples with youth ‘epidemic’

ABC, 13 September 2018: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes as it grapples with an “epidemic” of youth e-cigarette use that threatens to create a new generation of nicotine addicts, the agency’s head says.

Health impacts key focus of new Queensland climate change strategy

ABC, 13 September 2018: Killer heatwaves and disease outbreaks are key threats to Queenslanders from climate change, according to a State Government-funded plan calling for tobacco-style taxes on carbon polluters.

Yes we’re living longer, but there’s a chronic catch…

Fairfax Media, 10 September 2018: The good news is Australians are living longer than ever before. The bad news is we are living with increasing disability and decreased quality of life due to chronic disease.

Blood test to better predict heart attacks being developed in Melbourne

Fairfax Media, 7 September 2018: A blood test to better predict your risk of having a heart attack is being developed by Melbourne researchers, who hope to trial it in clinics in two to three years.

Prisoners need drug and alcohol treatments but AA programs aren’t the answer

The Conversation, 7 September 2018: A report, What works in alcohol and other drug treatment in prison settings, shows some interventions currently used in prisons have little evidence to support them.

Illegal ‘mega-raffle’ run by vaping shops shut down by NSW authorities

Fairfax Media, 6 September 2018: A national online “mega-raffle” run by a group of about 66 electronic cigarette businesses has been shut down by NSW authorities because it breached state laws.

National health survey of women reveals many feel anxious or are clinically depressed

ABC, 4 September 2018: Australian women are smoking less and exercising more, but many are anxious and a significant number say they have been diagnosed with depression, according to one of the nation’s biggest health studies.

Alcohol consumption hits 55-year low — and your stories explain why

ABC, 4 September 2018: Australia’s love for the drink has hit a dry spell, new data shows, as alcohol consumption drops to levels not seen since the early 1960s.

Victorian health campaign sees positive results with more active women

The Guardian, 4 September 2018: Diverse representation of women – both in terms of body type and cultural background – has been key to success.

Scientists must keep fighting fake news, not retreat to their ivory towers

The Guardian, 3 September 2018: Where is the evidence that the public buy lies over the truth in science? And why is this the starting point of so many of the debates I have attended on post-truth and fake news?

Bicycle share schemes benefit neither the environment nor public health study shows

NZ Herald, 3 September 2018: Cycle hire schemes may have been sold to cities around the world as being positive for the environment and good for our health, but scientists say neither traits are true.