News and events

Must-read articles about prevention

Expert calls for government regulation of weight loss programs

The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 June 2019: Dr Nicholas Fuller, director of the clinical obesity program at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, is calling for greater regulation of weight loss programs, warning that the “anecdata” used to market such plans is seeing Australians diet themselves larger.

Even light physical activity may help your heart

Harvard Medical School, 17 June 2019: Mounting evidence suggests that all movement — even low-effort activity — counts for preventing cardiovascular disease as people age.

Aussies indulging more in illicit drugs than alcohol or cigarettes

9News, 17 June 2019: Australians are indulging more in illicit drugs on average than drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes, a new report has claimed.

Southeast Asia tobacco control alliance praises Indonesia’s ad ban

The Jakarta Post, 17 June 2019: The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) has applauded Indonesia for its move to block online cigarette advertising, as an attempt to protect young people from being exposed to tobacco, and urged other countries to follow suit.

Two hours a week in nature is the ‘dose’ you need to increase health and happiness

ABC, 14 June 2019: Two hours a week in nature is the threshold we need to reach before feeling the benefits to our health and wellbeing, according to new research.

The personal and the political

Inside Story, 14 June 2019: Greg Hunt has nominated mental health as a central priority. But his success will depend on a willingness to challenge the way mental healthcare is funded and delivered.

Research Check: is white meat as bad for your cholesterol levels as red meat?

The Conversation, 14 June 2019: Researchers looked at whether it’s better to eat red meat, poultry or plant protein sources for heart health. While a plant-based diet was the clear winner, red meat and white meat scored the same.

Federal Government under pressure to pull its weight on growing obesity epidemic

ABC, 13 June 2019: Public health campaigns targeting people with obesity are often useless and could be doing more harm than good, according to leading international experts who say the Federal Government needs to do much more to tackle the chronic disease.

Obesity is the second leading contributor to Australia’s burden of disease

SBS, 13 June 2019: There are calls for government action on a national obesity prevention strategy to include public education campaigns in addition to protecting children from junk food marketing.

Breaking the silos – how systems tools can bring us together

The Mandarin, 13 June 2019: We hear a lot about the need for policymakers to engage with research evidence – but what about better engagement with each other?

We’re not just living for longer – we’re staying healthier for longer, too

The Conversation, 13 June 2019: On the whole, we’re living longer and healthier lives, thanks to advances in medical care, as well as lifestyle changes. But there are major differences in the health experiences of different groups.

Trauma and poverty transferred directly to children of stolen generations – study

The Guardian, 13 June 2019: Data show children in stolen generations households more likely than other Indigenous children to be disadvantaged.

Calls for national preventive health strategy to address poverty and other determinants of health

Croakey, 12 June 2019: Health advocates have welcomed plans for “a long-term national preventive health strategy”, announced today by Health Minister Greg Hunt, but warned that it must not take a narrow focus, and should prioritise action on climate change, poverty and other determinants of health.

Calls for national preventive health strategy to address poverty and other determinants of health

Croakey, 12 June 2019: Health advocates have welcomed plans for “a long-term national preventive health strategy”, announced today by Health Minister Greg Hunt, but warned that it must not take a narrow focus, and should prioritise action on climate change, poverty and other determinants of health.

More support for government health efforts

SBS, 12 June 2019: A majority of Australians now believe governments have a bigger role to play in preventing people from developing chronic illnesses, research has found.

Berating Nike for plus-size mannequins is no war on obesity – it’s just war on bigger bodies

The Guardian, 12 June 2019: Last week Nike proved its status as a disruptor when its London store introduced a female plus-size mannequin standing alongside a slender counterpart.

3 out of 4 kids with mental health disorders aren’t accessing care

The Conversation, 12 June 2019: Those least likely to get professional help for their mental health conditions were girls, younger children, and children from non-English-speaking backgrounds.

Physical activity in preschool years can affect future heart health

Science Daily, 11 June 2019: Physical activity in early childhood may have an impact on cardiovascular health later in life, according to new research, where scientists followed the activity levels of hundreds of preschoolers over a period of years.

How to get the nutrients you need without eating as much red meat

The Conversation, 11 June 2019: If you’re a red meat-eater, there’s a good chance you’re eating more of it than you should. At last count, Australians ate an average of 81 grams of red meat per day.

Australia’s decision not to ban poppers is a win for sensible drug policy, but the stigma remains

The Guardian, 10 June 2019: The TGA decision is the best anyone could have hoped for but there is still a minefield of inconvenience and criminalisation.

A Flurry of States Have Raised Their Smoking Ages. But Big Tobacco’s Involvement Has Some Health Groups Uneasy

Time, 10 June 2019: Momentum is growing for a nationwide movement to raise the legal age of tobacco purchase from 18 to 21. Experts say the widespread and worrisome teen vaping epidemic is a major catalyst—but so is support from e-cigarette and tobacco companies, which has some health groups feeling uneasy.

I’ve been honest about alcohol. But the drinks industry hasn’t

The Observer, 9 June 2019: I still enjoy a drink, but I know the harm it has done me. So why aren’t firms doing more to warn of the dangers?

Let’s get alcohol strategy done: Hunt

The Canberra Times, 8 June 2019: Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt expects a national plan to reduce the harm caused by alcohol will be released in the coming months amid calls for a campaign to improve public awareness.

A possible ‘link’ between menopause and Alzheimer’s is scaring women, including me

The Age, 7 June 2019: A long interview with US neuroscientist Dr Lisa Mosconi on the link between menopause and Alzheimer’s disease has been doing the rounds on social media this week, and it’s scaring the bejeezers out of many women over 40.

The Ngadhuri-nya process for engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in data linkage research

Croakey, 7 June 2019: This report outlines the Ngadhuri-nya process, which was developed as a means of engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in research that is examining the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the NSW Child Development Study (NSW-CDS), a data linkage study of children and young people in NSW.

Preventive health, nutrition and the health stars – a rocky road

Croakey, 6 June 2019: The failure of governments to address nutrition in any concerted way has been frustrating for public health professionals. Despite growing concerns over the health impacts of dietary related disease, and particularly overweight and obesity, there is still no national nutrition plan, write Michael Moore and Alexandra Jones.

New research series reveals how the gender health gap affects us all

The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 June: A new series, published in the Lancet last week, explores the potent effect of gender norms on health.

Attacks on press freedom will undermine public policy (amongst other things)

Croakey, 6 June 2019: Michael Thorn, Chief Executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), said AFP raids upon the ABC and a News Corp journalist’s home were ultimately aimed at intimidating public officials.

If you want to bring up a loved one’s weight, five experts have suggestions

The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 June: If your friend’s weight begins to fluctuate, should you step in and say something? Or could your words do more harm than good?

Climate Change and Health

ABC Radio National, 3 June: Podcast featuring ANU Professor Sharon Friel and Fiona Armstrong, founder and Executive Director, Climate and Health Alliance.

Why Alcohol Companies Are Betting on Non-Alcoholic ‘Booze’

Time, 3 June 2019: The trend of millennials cutting back on alcohol has been well documented, while about half of US adults (and two-thirds of those ages 21 to 34) say they’re trying to drink less, according to data from market-research firm Nielsen. Now beverage companies are clamoring to provide fun without the booze, and major alcohol producers are some of the first in line.

On the power of poetic praxiology, and seven principles of change in complex systems

Croakey, 3 June 2019: Researchers and health reformers have been urged to hone their skills in story-telling and to unlearn scientific teachings that do not value the power of narrative by Professor Trish Greenhalgh at the recent Choosing Wisely Australia National Meeting in Melbourne.

The Ice Age destroying families, and Indigenous culture

The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 June 2019: Experts told the NSW special commission of inquiry into ice in Nowra last week that they were increasingly seeing multiple generations of users living together, exposing children to violence, neglect, abuse and witnessing sex and drug use by intoxicated adults.

Suburbs with the worst smoking rates in Australia revealed

ABC, 1 June 2019: The Hobart suburb of Bridgewater which — at 40 per cent — has the worst smoking rate in Australia, according to new research.

Is roll-your-own tobacco the new ‘kiddy pack’?

Australian Journal of Pharmacy, 31 May 2019: Teen smoking rates are dropping… but there’s also a worrying increase in the popularity of roll-your-own tobacco amongst adolescents, warns the Cancer Council,

New report sheds stark light on prisoner health

Croakey, 31 May 2019: A third of all Australian prisoners were homeless before their incarceration and 40 percent have a diagnosed mental health condition, with one in three suffering a chronic illness and data showing they are two to four times less likely than the broader population to have seen a GP in the past year.

‘I had pain all over my body’: Italy’s tainted tobacco industry

The Guardian, 31 May 2019: Migrants working in areas supplying Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands allege abuses including low pay and illegal contracts.

Unhealthy products are gaming flawed health star food rating, study finds

The Guardian, 30 May 2019: Salty, sugary and fatty products are scoring too highly because of loopholes, the George Institute says.

WHO decries Big Tobacco bid to rebrand World No Tobacco Day

Yahoo News, 30 May 2019: The World Health Organization on Wednesday condemned efforts by the world’s biggest cigarette vendor to rebrand a day dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of tobacco use.

Ultra-processed food link to disease and death grows — so do we need to shift our food policy?

ABC News, 30 May 2019: Just weeks after researchers showed a cause-and-effect relationship between ultra-processed food and weight gain, two more studies have linked these foods with disease and death.

Sydney’s lockout laws to be reviewed as Berejiklian hails success.

The Guardian, 29 May 2019: A cross-party New South Wales parliamentary committee will look at Sydney’s controversial lockout laws as part of a review of the city’s night-time economy, after a fall in the number of assaults.

Australian alcohol consumption continues downward trend

The Shout, 29 May 2019: The latest findings from Roy Morgan’s Alcohol Consumption Currency Report March 2019, has shown a decline in the percentage of the Australian population aged 18 and over who consume at least one type of alcoholic drink in an average four week period.

Johnson & Johnson faces billion-dollar lawsuit over US opioid crisis

ABC News, 29 May 2019: The State of Oklahoma is suing one of the largest drug manufacturers, Johnson & Johnson, alleging it carried out deceptive marketing campaigns for painkillers and contributed to the country’s opioid crisis.

Suicide figures are the tip of the iceberg: new research

Beyond Blue, 29 May 2019: Suicidal behaviour among men could be up to three times higher than some estimates, according to new research from Monash University.

New U.S. Diabetes Cases Are Declining as Obesity Rates Climb. Officials Don’t Know Why

Time, 29 May 2019: The number of new diabetes cases among U.S. adults keeps falling, even as obesity rates climb, and health officials aren’t sure why.

Evidence, access and one-size-fits failures in chronic pain

Croakey, 29 May 2019: Public health academic Megan Weier shares her personal journey with chronic pain, exploring how the ‘gold standard’ — while proven to work — is out of reach for many, while treatments that do work are subject to the shifting sands of policy.

‘Best outcomes in the world’: NSW takes big steps to cut cancer deaths

The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 May 2019: Growing numbers of people are being diagnosed with cancer, but the good news is your chances of survival are getting significantly better, the latest Cancer Institute NSW report shows.

How fast you walk predicts how long you’ll live

Nine News, 28 May 2019: A study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings confirms that people who walk at a brisk pace in their middle age are more likely to live longer than those whose walking pace is slower.

Bad news for smokers turning to e-cigarettes as research suggests link to heart disease, 28 May 2019: A study suggests flavourings in the inhaled vapour may damage the cardiovascular system.

Backlash over Heart Foundation campaign

The Age, 28 May 2019: The Heart Foundation has bowed to a barrage of criticism and removed a contentious scene from a TV ad that suggests people who don’t look after their health don’t love their families.

Knowledge sharing between policy makers and academics

The Mandarin, 26 May 2019: Academic research is one source of external expertise that can contribute to robust policy development. However there are significant barriers to meaningful knowledge exchange. A project between academics and a policy group in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) set out to address these barriers and strengthen engagement.

McConnell unveils bill to combat youth tobacco use by raising purchase age to 21

CNN, 21 May 2019: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell formally introduced legislation Monday to raise the age for buying tobacco and e-cigarettes to 21, a move designed to combat the health effects of tobacco addiction across the country and help his home state of Kentucky move off production of the crop that has sagged in popularity for decades.

If you build more activity into your day, you might be able to skip the workout

The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 May 2019: Can non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, replace a stint at the gym or a morning jog?

Scientists rush to support complex insight into obesity

University of Sydney, 20 May 2019: Playwright Alana Valentine has been delighted by responses from scientists to her work Made to Measure, now playing at the Seymour Centre.

Obesity officially stunting Australia’s life expectancy

9 News, 20 May 2019 (video): New research has found Australia’s obesity epidemic is now officially stunting our life expectancy.

Key challenges for the re-elected Coalition government: our experts respond

The Conversation, 19 May 2019: Our experts take a closer look at what’s in store for health, taxes, the environment, education and infrastructure – five of the most closely watched policy areas in the election campaign.

Children who walk to school less likely to be overweight or obese, study suggests

EurekAlert!, 19 May 2019: Children who regularly walk or cycle to school are less likely to be overweight or obese than those who travel by car or public transport. Those who took part in sport every day appeared more likely to be overweight or obese than those who engaged in sport less than once a week, a UK study suggests.

Big Tobacco’s shadowy new play

Good Weekend, 18 May 2019: With health authorities stubbing out much of Big Tobacco’s business, and vaping on the rise, one of the industry’s biggest players says it plans to stop selling cigarettes. Is that just hot air?

Processed food leads people to eat more and put on weight, study finds

ABC, 18 May 2019: A small study has established a clear cause-and-effect relationship between processed foods, increased calorie consumption and weight gain – beyond the salt, sugar and fat content.

‘Imitation rum and vodka’ soft drink deal selling for less than $10 slammed by health officials

ABC, 16 May 2019: Health officials and the distilled spirits industry have slammed what they call an imitation vodka and rum deal, with soft drink, as akin to a deconstructed alcopop.

Study highlights importance of healthy lifestyle during menopause

The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 May 2019: According to research from the Australian National University, published in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology this month, while women do gain weight as they age, it is not attributable to the onset of menopause.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle helps reduce the risk of dementia

World Health Organization, 15 May 2019: New WHO dementia risk guidelines recommend regular exercise, not smoking, avoiding alcohol abuse and healthy weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Soda Taxes Are a ‘No-Brainer’ for Public Health, Says the Author of a New Study on Them

Time, 14 May 2019: A new JAMA study suggests taxing sugary drinks really can make people buy fewer of them, potentially translating to better public health.

Inequality and climate change: the perfect storm threatening the health of Australia’s poorest

The Guardian, 14 May 2019: Health policy can do much to lesson the wellbeing gap between rich and poor, but inequality is being compounded by climate change.

Next generation public health: towards precision and fairness

Lancet, May 2019: Big data and AI are transforming medicine, but public health has been lagging behind in embracing their potential.

Last minute election bid for action on junk food and alcohol advertising

Croakey, 13 May 2019: While the Greens have committed to banning junk food advertising to children, neither the Labor nor the Coalition has matched this commitment or articulated a comprehensive approach to the regulation of unhealthy products.

Tobacco giant suspends social media campaign as young ‘influencers’ exposed

The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 May 2019: Cigarette maker Philip Morris International has suspended a global social media marketing campaign in response to Reuters inquiries into the company’s use of young online personalities to sell its new “heated tobacco” device, including a 21-year-old woman in Russia.

Welfare groups push for restrictions on the sale of household products containing alcohol

ABC, 13 May 2019: Buying mouthwash could soon require photo ID in the Northern Territory. As the sale of alcohol becomes more restricted across the region, welfare groups said people are turning to easier-to-reach sources — like vanilla essence and cleaning products.

We have an election campaign, but where is the investment in an active Australia?

Croakey, 7 May 2019: The next Federal Government has an enormous challenge to increase physical activity levels among the general population, and needs to seriously re-think how community sports funding is being spent, and invest much more in efforts to promote cycling and walking.

Robert chose the pill-free route; he ended up on my operating table

The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 May 2019: Lifestyle medicine is not medicine, not even close.

What are the major parties promising on health this election?

The Conversation, 7 May 2019: The major parties’ manifestos for the 2019 federal election present voters with starkly contrasting health policies. These policies are shaped and constrained by the overall themes presented by the party leaders, but have some unique elements, writes Stephen Duckett of the Grattan Institute.

Is the game finally up for ‘fat-fluencers’?

Fairfax Media, 7 May 2019: For all the best efforts of the fat-fluencers, the biggest study of obesity in the UK has served as a reminder of inconvenient truths – not least that excess weight carries a significant risk of death and disease.

Physical activity could reduce your risk of lung and colorectal cancers

Yahoo News, 7 April 2019: According to new research, adults who stay in good physical shape have a lower risk of being diagnosed with colorectal or lung cancer, and a lower risk of all‐cause mortality if they do develop lung or colorectal cancer.

Labor’s election pledge to improve Australian diets is a first – now we need action, not just ‘consideration

The Conversation, 6 May 2019: Labor has pledged to consider serious steps to improve Australian diets and tackle our obesity epidemic. Firmly committing to these measures, and taking action on them, is crucial as we face a growing obesity crisis in Australia, writes Gary Sacks.

Western Sydney mayors urged to take obesity epidemic personally

Fairfax Media, 6 May 2019: Mayors across greater western Sydney are being urged to use council zoning powers to design environments that promote healthy lifestyles to confront the obesity crisis gripping their communities.

Would a Higher Tobacco Minimum Buying Age Deter Use?

International Policy Digest, 5 May 2019: There is Bipartisan support in the US for the “Tobacco to 21 Act,” which raises the minimum age to 21 for the purchase of all tobacco product categories, including e-cigarettes, cigarettes, and cigars. But will it work?

The War On Alcohol: Is This Prohibition 2.0

Forbes, 4 May 2019: The editor of the Nanny State Index offers his perspective on alcohol consumption and health.