News and events

Must-read articles about prevention

Up to one in three kids have tooth decay, and sugar is to blame: experts

The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 2019: Experts call for measures like a sugar tax to help in the fight against tooth decay but face opposition from both governments and the sugar industry.

‘Alcohol industry fingerprints all over’ Australia’s plan to tackle overdrinking

The Guardian, 7 August 2019: Health campaigners raise concerns about the level of influence the alcohol industry exerts on government.

Study finds the one exercise that wards of weight gain despite ‘obesity genes’

Body & Soul, 6 August 2019: Regular jogging is the most effective type of exercise for managing obesity, according to the five measures.

Mums in prison or whose babies are in care need breastfeeding support too

The Conversation, 5 August 2019: Australian women want to breastfeed but many struggle. And the most disadvantaged face the biggest challenges. Among them are mothers who are involved with the child protection and criminal justice systems, who need extra support. But such support has been lacking.

The National Breastfeeding Strategy is a start, but if we really valued breast milk we’d put it in the GDP

The Conversation, 5 August 2019: If breast milk was made in factories, we’d count it in the GDP.

The path ahead for preventive health: lessons from the UK’s Green Paper

Croakey, 4 August 2019: The UK Government has released a Green Paper (an official government consultation document) on Prevention. This document sets out the British Government’s position on preventive health and seeks input from the community and stakeholder groups on its proposed approach.

Cancer patient the first to die under Victoria’s euthanasia law

The Guardian, 4 August 2019: A Victorian woman has become the first person to end her life under the state’s new voluntary assisted dying laws.

Cancer screening programs: challenges and future directions

Croakey, 3 August 2019: Australia’s cancer screening programs have successfully reduced the burden of cancer on our community but it is important that we continue to question their role and evaluate their performance.

Mounting evidence for screening program for Australia’s deadliest cancer

ABC, 31 July 2019: Despite killing 9,000 Australians each year, there’s no national screening program for lung cancer like those available for breast, cervical and bowel cancers.

Climate crisis already causing deaths and childhood stunting, report reveals

The Guardian, 31 July 2019: ‘Insidious’ health-related impacts in Australia and Pacific include lowered cognitive capacity and spread of diseases.

I was only going to give up alcohol for a month but I wasn’t prepared for the impact it had

The Guardian, 31 July 2019: I drank to pretend my life was more interesting. Feeling slow or a little sad in the mornings was so normal I barely noticed it.

On the power of walking, as a disruptive intervention for mental health

Croakey, 31 July 2019: The physical health and wellbeing of people with mental illness has long been neglected.

Questions over Australia’s tobacco control

RACGP, 30 July 2019: A new report labels Australia a ‘best practice’ country, yet smoking rates are stagnant and lung cancer remains a leading cause of death.

Action needed to better understand Australian diets

Australian Academy of Science, 29 July 2019Nourishing Australia: a decadal plan for the science of nutrition, developed by the Australian Academy of Science, outlines four essential areas where the science of nutrition will contribute to enhancing the health of Australians.

‘It’s a superpower’: how walking makes us healthier, happier and brainier

The Guardian, 29 July 2019: Neuroscientist Shane O’Mara believes that plenty of regular walking unlocks the cognitive powers of the brain like nothing else. He explains why you should exchange your gym kit for a pair of comfy shoes and get strolling.

Victoria has ‘called time’ on a dysfunctional mental health system. What happens now?

ABC, 28 July 2019: Dozens of Victorians shared their painful and powerful stories during the state’s royal commission into its broken mental health system. Commissioners now have the difficult task of finding a way forward.

‘This is a mental health issue’: the devastating impact of problem gambling

The Guardian, 28 July 2019: Families grappling with gambling addiction say it needs to be treated as a public health issue, with more training for doctors to identify those at risk.

Nutrition science is broken. This new egg study shows why.

Salon, 27 July 2019: At turns lauded and vilified, the humble egg is an example of everything wrong with nutrition studies.

What alcohol does to your body in the short and long term

ABC, 27 July 2019: Most Australian adults will have at least an occasional drink and about half of us are regular drinkers. But it’s easy to underestimate the health impacts, and experts believe there is too much risky drinking.

Leaked draft of the National Alcohol Strategy shows why Australia can’t stop drinking

ABC, 26 July 2019: Australia’s plan for tackling alcohol abuse and harm has been compromised because of meddling from the alcohol industry, health experts have warned.

WHO launches new report on the global tobacco epidemic

WHO, 26 July 2019: But a new WHO report shows many countries are still not adequately implementing policies, including helping people quit tobacco, that can save lives from tobacco.

The last gasp: Australian council bans smoking in public places

The Guardian, 25 July 2019: As North Sydney became the first council in Australia to vote to ban smoking in all public places within its CBD, the area’s dwindling number of smokers greeted the vote with despair.

Obese Queenslanders weigh on health system

Brisbane Times, 25 July 2019: Two-thirds of adults in Queensland are overweight or obese along with a quarter of all kids, shocking new figures show.

Five or more hours of smartphone usage per day may increase obesity

Science Daily, 25 July 2019: University students who used their smartphones five or more hours a day had a 43% increased risk of obesity and were more likely to have other lifestyle habits that increase the risk of heart disease.

‘Let’s just do it’: AMA President throws down gauntlet on prevention

Croakey, 24 July 2019: AMA President Tony Bartone has thrown down the gauntlet on prevention, urging the newly-elected Morrison government to “just do it” on taxation of sugar-sweetened beverages and a volumetric alcohol levy, a preventative health promotion agency and national strategies on obesity and drinking.

Tooth decay is almost entirely preventable

The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 July 2019: Diet and simple dental hygiene habits are really the best way of ensuring good oral health and reducing the cost of dental care.

Gillard highlights structural, social determinants as key to Indigenous suicide gap

Croakey, 24 July 2019: Recognising and addressing the post-colonial, intergenerational determinants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and supporting community-led solutions will be key to tackling “alarming” Indigenous suicide rates, former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard said in an impassioned public address this week.

‘Anonymised’ data can be linked to people’s real identities 99.98pc of the time, claims study

The Telegraph (UK), 23 July 2019: Scientists from Imperial College London and UCLouvain in Belgium developed an algorithm which found that anonymous databases, which are often used by technology companies and healthcare services to share data that doesn’t include people’s real names, could be “de-anonymised.”

Opioid crisis: Biggest civil trial in US history to start in Ohio

The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 July 2019: Last week’s revelation that drug companies saturated the United States with 76 billion pain pills over seven years shows that no corner of the country escaped the drug crisis.

Climate emergency in Wagga Wagga and the glimmer of hope at the grassroots

Croakey, 22 July 2019: As a standoff shapes up over the declaration of a climate crisis in the conservative NSW Riverina town of Wagga Wagga, where flooding, droughts and bushfires have all had an impact in recent years, grassroots action and people power are emerging as the catalyst for change amid political deadlock.

Time to tackle the physical activity gender gap

Lancet Public Health, 22 July 2019: As female athletes challenge inequalities over pay and investment and shift social expectations, could their example be used to tackle the gender gap in physical activity in the wider population?

Dementia research receives $21 million in Federal funding

Talking Aged Care, 22 July 2019: Thirteen projects focussing on risk reduction, prevention and tracking of dementia, will receive $21 million in funding from the Australian Government, including an Australian first project that will use electronic record data to map the prevalence of dementia.

Nearly 80 per cent of Australian children fall short on exercise

The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 July 2019: The downward trend in physical movement has been exacerbated by a misperception among parents and educators that allocating time for students to be active at school will affect their academic performance.

Doctors push for a minimum price on alcohol in NSW

The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 July 2019: The Royal Australasian College of Physicians is calling on the Berejkilian government to introduce a minimum price on alcohol in a bid to reduce drinking related harm in NSW.

People living with chronic pain face high rates of stigma, survey finds

The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 July 2019: A Chronic Pain Australia survey also found that many people living with chronic pain continued to face high levels of stigma, with more than 70 per cent saying they had felt judged.

How common causes of death among Australians have changed over the past 40 years

The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 July 2019: Australians are dying at their lowest rate on record, but data shows more people are dying of dementia and Alzheimer’s than ever before.

Sugar, alcohol and tobacco fuel oral health crisis

Griffith News, 19 July 2019: Failure of the global health community to prioritise the global burden of oral health has led to calls from Lancet Series authors for the radical reform of dental care, tightened regulation of the sugar industry, and greater transparency around conflict of interests in dental research.

Up to one in three kids have tooth decay, and sugar is to blame: experts

The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 2019: Experts call for measures like a sugar tax to help in the fight against tooth decay but face opposition from both governments and the sugar industry.

New app a ‘game changer’ to gauge realistic drinking habits

ABC, 19 July 2019: A new app to gauge a person’s drinking habits is expected to give a more accurate picture of alcohol consumption than a consultation with a health professional.

More women suffering ‘deaths of despair’ but wealthiest are shielded, study shows

The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 2019: Women are increasingly suffering “deaths of despair”, a new study shows, with only the wealthiest shielded from the rise in suicides, overdoses, and deaths from potentially preventable causes.

I gave up junk food for a month and dreamed about brownies and chips

The Guardian, 18 July 2019: A lesser-known cousin to Dry July, FebFast or Movember, Junk Free June is the idea that for a month you get sponsored not to eat junk food.

Should obesity be recognised as a disease?

British Medical Journal, 17 July 2019: Will categorising obesity as a disease encourage people to seek treatment – or would medicalisation be disempowering and reduce motivation?

The big health problem that’s slashing decades off Australian life expectancies, 17 July 2019: Australians with mental illness could experience a 20-year lower life expectancy than the rest of the population, a new report has warned.

People with mental illness experience poorer physical health, and the gap may be getting worse, experts say

ABC, 17 July 2019: The physical health challenges experienced by people with mental illness – including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease – are contributing to years of lost life, a new report finds.

Harnessing the power of informatics to improve aged care

Croakey, 17 July 2019: Harnessing the enormous power of informatics to create systems that use the data often already at hand, could make a difference in the individual lives of older Australians and their carers.

What will go in the shopping basket – fruit and veg or soft drink?

Croakey, 17 July 2019: Are the two nutritional ills of low fruit and vegetable consumption, and drinking sugar sweetened beverages, linked?

Anti-starvation trick that saved our ancestors may underlie obesity epidemic

Science Daily, 16 July 2019: A molecular “trick” that kept our ancient ancestors from starving may now be contributing to the obesity epidemic, a new study finds.

World hunger is still not going down after three years and obesity is still growing – UN report672 million obese adults worldwide

World Health Organization, 15 July 2019: An estimated 820 million people did not have enough to eat in 2018, up from 811 million in the previous year, which is the third year of increase in a row. This underscores the immense challenge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030, says a new edition of the annual The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report.

‘Second-hand drinking’ damage is more common than you may think

The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 July 2019: Being harassed, bothered, called names, or otherwise insulted is among a number of forms of second-hand drinking harm, the impact of which researchers are only just starting to capture.

Diabetes ‘epidemic’ causing avoidable and costly health risks, doctors warn

ABC, 14 July 2019: Medical professionals warn a ‘silent’ diabetes epidemic is overwhelming hospitals and causing preventable deaths because the disease is not taken seriously.

“Survive and thrive” and other key elements of global Indigenous concepts of wellbeing

Croakey, 14 July 2019: Indigenous concepts of wellbeing share common themes globally, and should inform initiatives such as the Wellbeing Budget of Aotearoa/New Zealand, delegates at the recent International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference were told.

Berejiklian sticks to drug abstinence stance when asked about over-policing at festivals

The Guardian, 14 July 2019: NSW premier sidesteps questions about a link between excessive police presence and young people swallowing multiple pills.

Feeling healthy? Cutting calories could lead to more benefits

The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 July 2019: Even if you consider yourself healthy, you could still dramatically benefit from mild reductions in your calorie intake, a new study suggests.

‘A powerful message’: Should alcohol products be branded with warnings about the cancer risk?

ABC, 12 July 2019: Most Australians are aware of the cancer risk associated with smoking, unprotected sun exposure and asbestos — but what about drinking alcohol?

Belly fat: gut bacteria checks could lead to personalised diets

The Conversation, 12 July 2019: Gut microbiota are better predictors of belly fat than diet.

Why so many of us don’t lose weight when we exercise

The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 July 2019: A study carefully tracked how much people ate and moved after starting to exercise, found that many of them failed to lose or even gained weight while exercising, because they also reflexively changed their lives in other, subtle ways.

I know from painful experience how poisonous the debate around obesity is

The Guardian, 11 July 2019: Yes, we must tackle obesity: but let’s do it without the kind of heartless reporting and hurtful language that held me back.

One cup of soft drink a day linked to 18 per cent increased cancer risk: study

The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 July 2019: People who regularly drink sugary beverages may have an increased the risk of cancer, new research suggests.

National failure on alcohol policy: contributing to emergency department overload

Croakey,11 July 2019: Public health advocates advise that the National Alcohol Strategy is locked in a stalemate, with some jurisdictions involved in the Ministerial Drug and Alcohol Forum refusing to endorse the latest iteration of the document.

Pharma giant using loophole to falsely promote opioid pain relief product across Australia

ABC, 10 July 2019: A pharmaceutical giant owned by the Sackler family in the United States is using flaws in regulation to push its latest product deep into regional Australia.

For green cities to become mainstream, we need to learn from local success stories and scale up

Croakey, 10 July 2019: The movement to green cities has many potential health benefits but requires wider institutional support within local governments and metropolitan water and planning agencies.

The dollar value of a life in Australia: How economists are failing the public on health

The New Daily, 9 July 2019: Just how healthy is Australia’s preventative health system, and are our governments spending enough to adequately protect against future disease outbreaks?

Look up north. Here’s how Aussie kids can move more at school, Nordic style

The Conversation, 9 July 2019: Finnish children and their other Nordic counterparts outperform most other highly developed nations when it comes to children’s physical activity levels and obesity rates. So what can Australia’s school system learn from the Nordic approach to physical education?

‘Only acceptable goal’: grants to boost healthy ageing for Indigenous

The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 July 2019: The federal government has committed funding towards six medical research projects focused on improving the health profile of ageing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.