News and events

Prevention Counts

We can’t ignore mental illness prevention in a COVID-19 world

The Conversation, 14 September 2020: During the early days of the pandemic, surveys showed a sharp increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression across Australia. These difficulties continued into mid-August. More than 40% of Australians aged 18 years and older feel high levels of anxiety, and around one in six report depressive symptoms.


Prevention Headlines is a summary of media stories about the prevention of chronic disease and the social determinants of health with a focus on the Australian landscape. The list is not comprehensive and mainly focusses on the topics relevant to the work of the Prevention Centre. These are curated for information and reference only and their inclusion is not necessarily an endorsement of content. Please contact us if you have any comments.


14–21 September 2020

Medical industry outraged over ‘truly terrible’ tobacco use study

The New Daily, 21 September 2020: Taxing tobacco products remains the most important factor in driving down smoking rates, researchers have reiterated after a controversial paper was released that suggested Australian’s plain packaging had done nothing to curb cigarette usage.

Diabetes drug linked to benefits in pregnancy

newGP, 18 September 2020: Metformin has been found to help women with type 2 diabetes throughout pregnancy.

Tool uses fat and bone and muscle to diagnose disease, predict falls and fractures

University of Melbourne Newsroom, 17 September 2020: Doctors will soon be able to use fat to diagnose musculoskeletal disease within seconds and predict the risk of falls and fractures in older people. Two in three older Australians live with chronic musculoskeletal conditions, which are largely associated with ageing and can lead to decreased muscle mass, physical disability and poor quality of life.

After years of waiting for action on chronic disease prevention, COVID-19 provides an opportunity

croakey, 15 September 2020: After years of trying to drum up government interest in chronic disease prevention, the past few months have sharply demonstrated the value of prevention as a tool to sustain healthy communities.

Indigenous communities in Melbourne work hard to share coronavirus information to keep cases down

ABC News, 15 September 2020: Indigenous health workers are helping to get the message to people who aren’t connected online. The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) reports five active cases among Indigenous Victorians, with 69 people having recovered from the virus.

Take a breath before giving asthma patients steroids

Sydney Morning Herald, 15 September 2020: Researchers say steroid tablets are being overprescribed, raising the risk of long-term side-effects for patients including diabetes and osteoporosis.

We can’t ignore mental illness prevention in a COVID-19 world

The Conversation, 14 September 2020: During the early days of the pandemic, surveys showed a sharp increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression across Australia. These difficulties continued into mid-August. More than 40% of Australians aged 18 years and older feel high levels of anxiety, and around one in six report depressive symptoms.

31 August–14 September 2020

The rise of ultra-processed foods and why they’re really bad for our health

The Conversation, 14 September 2020: A recent study shows that sales of ultra-processed foods are booming nearly everywhere in the world but are highest in rich countries like Australia, the United States and Canada.

Diabetes in poverty-stricken pregnant women in the NT, highest in the world

NT Independent, 10 September 2020: Pregnant Indigenous women living in the remote towns of Central Australia have been found to have the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the world, according to a new report by the Menzies School of Health Research, at 8.4 per cent in 2016.

Tobacco control was the best buy in health then, and it’s still the best buy now: an interview with Dr Michael Wooldridge

InTouch Public Health, 10 September 2020: The Honourable Dr Michael Wooldridge, Minister for Health from 1996 until 2001, reflects on how 1990s reforms to tobacco control were achieved and how the public health community can best engage with policy makers to advocate for reform. 

More than 3 billion people protected from harmful trans fat in their food

World Health Organization Newsroom, 9 September 2020: Two years into the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ambitious effort to eliminate industrially produced trans fats from the global food supply, the Organization reports that 58 countries so far have introduced laws that will protect 3.2 billion people from the harmful substance by the end of 2021. But more than 100 countries still need to take actions to remove these harmful substances from their food supplies.

New report details hundreds of examples of unhealthy commodity industries, led by Big Alcohol, Big Food, and Big Soda, leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic

NCD Alliance News, 10 September 2020: A new report Signalling Virtue, Promoting Harm: Unhealthy commodity industries and COVID-19 es a preliminary expose and analysis of tactics and strategies adopted by the unhealthy commodities industries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social prescribing should be part of standard care

NewsGP, 4 September 2020: The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has urged government to include social prescribing in its 10-year Primary Health Care Plan. Social prescribing offers a system of support and guidance for people struggling with chronic conditions to connect with their community, counter loneliness, depression and anxiety and improve their overall health outcomes.

HIIT the road to recovery for patients with heart disease

UQ News, 4 September 2020: High-intensity interval training can help heart patients with their recover and is more effective than moderate-intensity continuous training in the short term.

Many nations falling behind on global efforts to cut chronic disease deaths

Imperial College London News, 3 September 2020: A new report in The Lancet, the NCD Countdown 2030 report – led by researchers at Imperial College London, World Health Organization and the NCD Alliance – reveals that around the world, the risk of dying prematurely from often preventable and largely treatable chronic diseases such as stroke, heart disease, and stomach cancer has declined steadily over the past decade.  

‘Silent condition’: one in 10 adults at risk by may not know it

Sydney Morning Herald: 2 September 2020: Chronic kidney disease risk factors include a family history of kidney disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and a history of smoking. People aged over 60 and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people also have a higher risk.

Tens of thousands train in contact tracing for the bush

NACCHO, 2 September 2020: More than 50,000 people have accessed specialised pandemic training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and health practitioners to help protect remoted Australian communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are considered at greater risk of severe forms of COVID-19, because of underlining chronic health conditions in this population. 

Woolworths home brands still healthiest but could do better, report finds

George Institute for Global Health, 2 September 2020: Woolworths is winning the supermarket war when it comes to the healthiest home brands, but a new report shows there’s a lot more work to be done to help stem the tide of diet -related disease in Australia.


24–31 August 2020

Building greener communities

The West Australian, 31 August 2020: The recent change in the way people live, travel and work presents a unique opportunity for urban developers and designers to improve issues such as the liveability of our neighbourhoods and access to public spaces.

Health expert warns many people ‘don’t recover’ from COVID-19

news.com.au, 29 August 2020: The ongoing effects of the virus post-recovery can be classified as a chronic condition with the virus leading to – on average – a reduction in life expectancy by ten years.

Mount Druitt’s new diabetes clinic – a new model of care for Type 2 diabetes

The Pulse, 28 August 2020: A new clinic in Western Sydney provides services including diabetes self-management skills, dietary advice, eye screening, foot checks, and blood glucose monitoring technology to identify trends, such as unrecognised hypoglycaemia (abnormally low blood glucose).

How talking to kids about the ‘zoo in their poo’ could inspire healthier food choices

ABC Radio National, 28 August 2020: Felice Jacka – a professor of nutritional and epidemiological psychiatry at Deakin University – and Rob Craw have created a new book, There’s a Zoo in My Poo, which teaches adults and children how eating fruit, vegetables and wholegrains helps their mental and physical health.

NSW Productivity Commission green paper highlights key opportunities for growth

The Mandarin, 28 August 2020: The NSW Productivity Commission has released a new green paper to help achieve a more productive and sustainable economy for the state and its community in the future. The paper notes actions on alcohol consumption, liveability and prevention of chronic disease.

Inequality drives deep divide between Australian children

Curtin University Newsroom, 28 August 2020: More than one in five children under the age of five are living in poverty in Western Australia, with 11.4 per cent in severe financial hardship. Despite reductions nationally in drinking and smoking during pregnancy, there are still high rates among some groups across Western Australia.

Lift your game: the undervalued role of strength training in chronic disease prevention

University of Southern Queensland News, 27 August 2020: Public health researchers have urged political leaders and health policy makers to do more to promote the importance of strength training to good health.

Australia to ‘bounce back better’ if COVID policies stay

Australian National University Newsroom, 27 August 2020: A new report from ANU analyses the policy measures and highlights the growing gap in health outcomes between rich and poor in Australia.

Strength training is as important as cardio

The Conversation, 27 August 2020: Research suggests the health benefits of lifting weights rival, or even exceed, those of aerobic exercise. So why do so few of us do it?

Listen to, and learn from the leaders in primary healthcare

croakey, 26 August 2020: The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations sector has a wealth of expertise in addressing the social and cultural determinants of health, responsive service development, and providing culturally safe care, finds the Centre of Research Excellence in Aboriginal Chronic Disease Knowledge Translation and Exchange.

Childhood obesity could increase the risk of multiple sclerosis in later life

The Conversation, 26 August 2020: Obesity and smoking are well-known risk factors for heart disease and cancer. What is less well known is that they are associated with an increased risk of multiple sclerosis (MS).


17–24 August 2020

If you need a lifesaving reason to lose weight, the novel coronavirus provides it

The Washington Post, 24 August 2020: Obesity, a significant public health problem among both American adults and children, is one of the risk factors for severe disease and death from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Others include older age and such underlying medical conditions as heart disease and diabetes, both of them related to obesity.

Another misguided ‘war’ on obesity

Scientific American, 23 August 2020: A new health campaign from the UK government focuses on personal responsibility rather than attacking poverty and inequality, the root causes of obesity.

Alcohol and young women: a not so healthy mix

Intouch Public Health, 20 August 2020: Increasingly, young women have become a higher risk group due to a combination of factors. A new study just released in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health aims to fill the gap from previous research, and in particular the alcohol related harm that may increase from ‘pre-loading’ and heavy episodic drinking (HED) amongst young Australian women.

Why self-determination matters for better alcohol policy

croakey, 19 August 2020: How can self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities be embedded into alcohol policy development?

An estimated 1.6 million Australians live with type 2 diabetes. The five ‘As’ that make sugar toxic?

Queensland Country Life, 19 August 2020: An estimated 1.6 million Australians live with type 2 diabetes, the sixth biggest killer in our country and the leading cause of blindness among working-age adults. Australian of the Year and eye surgeon Dr James Muecke suspects that most people are sugar addicts and don’t even realise.

Lessons from a diabetes clinic in Malawi: why everyone should follow a healthy diet

The Conversation, 18 August 2020: To reduce the prevalence of diabetes in Malawi, efforts to promote healthy eating should target the entire population and not only people who have diabetes.

Obesity strategy: policies placing responsibility on individuals don’t work – so why does the government keep using them?

The Conversation, 19 August 2020: The UK government recently announced a strategy aimed at reducing obesity. It will introduce a ban on unhealthy food advertisements on TV before a certain hour, end ‘buy one, get one free’ junk food deals, and create more comprehensive calorie contents on food and drinks.

Do you know the five As that make sugar toxic?

Queensland Country Life, 19 August 2020: An estimated 1.6 million Australians live with type 2 diabetes, the sixth biggest killer in our country and the leading cause of blindness among working-age adults. Australian of the Year and eye surgeon Dr James Muecke suspects that most people are sugar addicts and don’t even realise.

$15 million for Adelaide-led medical research

University of Adelaide Newsroom, 17 August 2020: The University of Adelaide has been awarded more than $15 million in research grants from the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund’s (MRFF) to support targeted research on new ways to address risk factors for chronic and complex diseases.

Overweight and obesity more common among some groups of Australian children and adolescents

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 13 August 2020: A new report from AIHW, Overweight and obesity among Australian children and adolescents, suggests that some groups of Australian children and adolescents are more likely to be overweight or obese.


3–17 August 2020

Health experts call for health overhaul to fight ‘ongoing pandemic of racism’

Sydney Morning Herald, 17 August 2020: Health experts have called on governments to do more than pay lip service to the Black Lives Matter movement by working to improve the health of Indigenous Australians.

More than a quarter of ADF personnel estimated to be overweight, research finds

ABC North Queensland, 17 August 2020: Researchers analysing the waist sizes of Defence Force soldiers estimate more than a quarter of military personnel are overweight.

Health groups want smoking banned at NT schools

Katherine Times, 17 August 2020: More than a quarter of NT schools allow staff to smoke in designated areas on school grounds. Major health bodies, including the Heart Foundation, have urged the NT Government to ban smoking on school grounds.

Weight between young adulthood and midlife linked to early mortality

ScienceDaily, 14 August 2020: A new Boston University School of Public Health study finds that changes in weight between young adulthood and midlife may have important consequences for a person’s risk of early death.

‘Working for our people’: what helps build a stronger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce?

UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 10 August 2020: The Career Pathways Project Report, commissioned by the Lowitja Institute and led by the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory and UNSW Sydney, has identified the strengths that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health staff bring to service delivery and the key enablers to developing their career pathways in health.

What anti-smoking ads can teach us about coronavirus communications

ABC Health Report, 10 August 2020: How can communication about COVID-19 be improved to get behaviour change without stricter measures like a lockdown? A feature of the state and federal governments’ responses to the pandemic has been a scarcity of media campaigns – and those which have emerged have tended to be pretty basic without much nuanced messaging. Can we learn anything from Australia’s experience of anti-smoking and cancer prevention campaigns over the years? Featuring Professor Melanie Wakefield.

One in eight Australians drinking alcohol every day during coronavirus outbreak, survey finds

The Guardian, 9 August 2020: Alcohol and Drug Foundation says one in 10 people report consuming more than 10 standard drinks per week.

Landmark obesity guidelines in Canada treat problem as chronic disease

The Guardian, 5 August 2020: Pioneering guidelines on obesity management published in Canada are challenging doctors to consider the health problem as a complex chronic illness rather than something a little diet and exercise can cure.

Obesity and overweight driving premature cardiovascular disease mortality

University of Melbourne Newsroom, 4 August 2020: More Australians and Americans are dying from cardiovascular disease attributable to excess weight, particularly in younger people, new research finds.

Putting best foot forward towards walkability

University of Tasmania News, 4 August 2020: The University of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research has been awarded $571,000 to assess and improve walkability and health in Tasmania’s regional and rural communities.

Are Australian heart attack guidelines putting lives at risk?

ABC Health Report, 3 August 2020: Less than 30% of people in Australia at high risk of heart attack receive the statin therapy that could save their life, according to researchers calling for changes to guidelines to include the use of CT scans to guide prescribing.


20 July–3 August 2020

Are Australian heart attack guidelines putting lives at risk?

ABC Health Report, 3 August 2020: Less than 30 per cent of people in Australia at high risk of heart attack receive the statin therapy that could save their life, according to researchers calling for changes to guidelines to include the use of CT scans to guide prescribing.

First dynamic modelling of national suicide prevention strategies released

University of Sydney News & opinion, 3 August 2020: University of Sydney researchers are recommending urgent national strategies to reduce the mental health impact in Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fears CALD patients avoiding healthcare during pandemic

newsGP, 3 August 2020: As coronavirus restrictions are tightened, GPs are being encouraged to reach out to their culturally and linguistically diverse patients, with higher rates of chronic disease and other comorbidities among some CALD communities. 

‘It nearly cost me my life’: Why more young Australians are choosing not to drink

ABC News, 31 July 2020: The National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019 shows that while alcohol is still our most used drug, more Australians are giving up alcohol — between 2016 and 2019 the number of ex-drinkers in the population rose from 1.5 to 1.9 million Australians. Twenty-one per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 24 per cent of 25- to 29-year-olds don’t drink, and both those figures have more than doubled since 2001.

Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission

The Lancet, 30 July 2020: Modifying 12 risk factors could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases: the 2020 Commission update on Dementia, prevention, intervention, and care identifies 3 new risk factors for dementia, laying out a set of policies and lifestyle changes to aid prevention.

New Closing the Gap agreement features six new Indigenous welfare targets, including suicide rates, health, and land rights

ABC News, 28 July 2020: For the first time, Australia will commit to reducing Indigenous imprisonment rates, suicides and child removals under an historic Closing the Gap agreement unveiled by the Prime Minister.

Cancer deaths to rise in pandemic trade-off

ABC Health Report, 27 July 2020: As many as 3621 people are expected to die from cancer in the UK over the next 5 years due to delays in testing and diagnosis resulting from the response to COVID-19.

Five public health lessons from coronavirus

croakey, 24 July 2020: The Public Health Association of Australia has marked the six-month anniversary of Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announcing Australia’s first case of coronavirus to argue for increased investment in public and preventive health, including structures and workforce, noting that of 1,057 specialist doctor training positions in 2019, only 27 were public health doctors.

Chronic disease risk factors a ticking time bomb

Diabetes Australia, 23 July 2020: Australians are being urged not to ignore their long-term risk of chronic disease during COVID-19, as a new report highlights overweight and obesity as a major risk factor affecting two in three Australian adults. The new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report Australia’s Health 2020 shows that, while Australians are living longer, some risk factors like overweight and obesity have been steadily increasing over the past few decades.

Heart disease, suicide our biggest killers

Illawarra Mercury, 23 July 2020: Suicide is the biggest killer of Australians aged between 14 and 44, a stark national study reveals. It is also among the top five causes of death for everyone aged below 64, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has found.

New holistic approach to monitoring climate will help fight bushfires

UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 22 July 2020: Research carried out at the height of the 2019/2020 Australian bushfire season demonstrates how the relationships between extreme pollution, heatwaves and drought exacerbate the impact of bushfires on urban outdoor liveability and health.


13–20 July 2020

Pregnancy warnings on alcohol beverages will now be mandatory within three years

ABC News, 18 July 2020: Multi-coloured pregnancy warnings on alcoholic beverages will be mandatory in Australia after the Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation accepted new standards proposed by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand.

Pregnancy warning mandatory on alcoholic beverages within three years

The Guardian, 17 July 2020: Australian and New Zealand ministers have granted beverage makers an extra year for the transition with the labels to say “pregnancy warning” rather than “health warning” as initially proposed. The alcohol industry has been given a 12-month extension but will have to ensure pregnancy health warning labels are placed on all bottles and cans within three years.

Trust and the future of telehealth services in Australia

The Mandarin, 17 July 2020: In response to COVID-19, the federal government expanded telehealth services in March as a way of containing the virus and reducing potential transmission between health professionals and patients. Telehealth consultations surged and by May 4.7 million people had received 7.7 million telehealth services and are important for the treatment of chronic diseases.

Could COVID-19 trigger chronic disease in some people?

The Scientist, 17 July 2020: A handful of viruses have been associated with long-term, debilitating symptoms in a subset of those who become infected. Early signs hint that SARS-CoV-2 may do the same.

Setting the benchmark for diabetes prevention management

newsGP, 16 July 2020: The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has updated its resource providing a comprehensive guidance for primary care teams and outlines emerging challenges in the field of diabetes.

Survey finds smoking rates higher in Qld and NT

The Weekly Times, 16 July 2020: Queenslanders and Northern Territorians continue to smoke tobacco at a higher rather than those in any other Australian state or territory, however daily smoking numbers are down nationwide.

Amid global chaos, what is the future for prevention?

croakey, 14 July 2020: Health experts are warning that we cannot expect or imagine a “post-COVID19 world” as the pandemic continues to threaten a “global regression in human health”.

Lack of vaping regulation prompts call for investigation by doctors

News.com.au, 14 July 2020: Doctors are being encouraged to start asking their patients about this after thousands exhibited coronavirus-like damage to their lungs.

You may have to do more than eat well to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes

SBS News, 14 July 2020: It’s time to separate myth from fact and talk home truths about the practical things you can do to lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.


6–13 July 2020

Should we really beware the ‘bliss point’ hiding in ‘healthy’ foods?

Sydney Morning Herald, 13 July 2020: Manufactured foods have long played a big role in modern diets – in Australia almost half of what Australians eat is ‘ultra processed’, according to analysis published last year – and the links to obesity rates have been well documented.

Where are the most disadvantaged parts of Australia? New research shows it’s not just income that matters

The Conversation, 13 July 2020: New research on disadvantage in Australia has found the gap between rich and poor is very wide in Sydney, while much of Queensland struggles with educational disadvantage and regional NSW and Victoria are both more disadvantaged when it comes to health.

Making it harder to import e-cigarettes is good news for our health, especially young people’s

The Conversation, 13 July 2020: From next year, access to e-cigarettes and related products containing liquid nicotine will require a doctor’s prescription. This is to ensure liquid nicotine is handled like the poisonous, addictive substance it is and not promoted to young people. It’s good news for public health and bad news for the tobacco and e-cigarette industries.

Socio-economic, environmental impacts of coronavirus quantified

University of Sydney News and Opinion, 10 July 2020: How is COVID-19 impacting people and the planet and what are the implications for a post-pandemic world? This world-first study led by the University of Sydney quantifies the socio-economic losses and environmental gains.

Type 2 diabetes: eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables daily lowers risk, study shows

The Conversation UK, 9 July 2020: Eating about five servings of fruit and vegetables a day is widely promoted as a key part of a healthy diet. This is because consuming fruit and vegetables is linked to lowering the risk of health problems such as coronary heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.

Community control ‘key to Indigenous advancement’ says NACCHO CEO Pat Turner

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alerts, 7 July 2020: Pat Turner believes that when Indigenous organisations take over the job of improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, it will be the end of the grim practice of monitoring failure and calling it Closing the Gap.

‘Proven ineffective’: Doctors urge stronger alcohol pregnancy warning labels

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 July 2020: Doctors are calling on Australian and New Zealand governments to resist alcohol industry pressure and adopt the mandatory pregnancy warning labels they previously sent back for revision. Almost a quarter of Australians are not aware that drinking alcohol when pregnant is harmful to an unborn baby, resulting in around 75,000 alcohol-exposed pregnancies every year. In a recent NSW pregnancy cohort over 60 per cent of women drank alcohol during pregnancy.

Commissioner calls for targets to fix Indigenous health ‘disaster’

Sydney Morning Herald, 6 July 2020: new rural health commissioner Ruth Stewart is calling for measurable, short-term health targets to close the almost 10-year average life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Big Tobacco’s decisive defeat on plain packaging laws won’t stop its war against public health

The Conversation, 6 July 2020: After a decade of legal challenges by the tobacco lobby, Australia’s pioneering push to eliminate all tobacco advertising finally has clear air.


29 June–6 July 2020

Living locally and the rise of the 20-minute neighbourhood

UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 6 July 2020: The ability to work, live and play all within 20 minutes’ reach is the new gold standard for urban planning.

Principals sound alarm as students take up vaping, become black market ‘dealers’

Brisbane Times, 5 July 2020: Principals across Sydney have written to parents warning them of a significant increase in vaping among teenagers, with teachers catching students as young as year 7 using vapes at school or even becoming dealers.

Heart attack clue women should know

The Queensland Times, 5 July 2020: Women who suffer from hot flushes and night sweats after menopause are 70% more likely to have a heart attack, angina or stroke.

Vaping: A harmless alternative, or a dangerous gateway to smoking?

Sydney Morning Herald, 5 July 2020: Hundreds of thousands of Australians who import liquid nicotine from overseas have won a six-month reprieve from tough new rules that would have put them at risk of hefty fines, but the battle over vaping is far from over.

‘Healthy’ snack foods big on marketing, small on nutrition

University of Sydney News and Opinion, 2 July 2020: Fact versus fluff in the health food aisle. Nutrition researchers at the University of Sydney found that buzzwords used on health food packaging are likely to be a deliberate ploy.

Tobacco use declining among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

croakey, 1 July 2020: Smoking prevalence within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has declined by almost 10 percentage points in the past 15 years, and accelerating further reductions is possible.

Should we be talking more about vaping in Australia

Australian Health Economics Society Blog, July 2020: Anyone who has travelled to the US or the UK recently has no doubt encountered both users of, and advertisements and promotions for, vaping products – otherwise known as e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes were first marketed at cigarette smokers as electronic nicotine delivery systems to help them give up cigarettes, however the proliferation of flavours would indicate e-cigarette companies have more than current smokers in mind. Dr Becky Freeman from the University of Sydney comments on the situation in Australia.

Study finds link between sitting all day and risk of dying from cancer

Sydney Morning Herald, 30 June 2020: Sitting for hours on end could heighten someone’s risk of later dying from cancer, according to a sobering new study of the relationship between inactivity and cancer mortality. The study was epidemiological, providing a snapshot of people’s lives, so it cannot prove cause and effect. But the findings suggest that extremely sedentary people can be as much as 805 more likely to die of cancer than those who sit the least.

Regulator revises alcohol pregnancy warning wording, sticks with red text

Sydney Morning Herald, 30 June 2020: The food and beverage regulator has revised the wording of pregnancy warnings on alcohol bottles but rejected arguments that adding red lettering would impose an unreasonable cost on the industry. Public health advocates are now calling on state, federal and New Zealand food ministers to approve the mandatory label when they meet on July 17.

New research aims to show what really works for anxiety and depression

Sydney Morning Herald, 29 June 2020:  Beyond Blue, the non-profit mental health organisation, commissioned researchers from the University of Melbourne to review the scientific evidence-based literature on 440 treatments for depression and anxiety. These included psychological, medical, complementary and lifestyle interventions.

Why the ban on nicotine vape fluid will do more harm than good

The Conversation, 30 June 2020: The federal government’s Office of Drug Control has announced changes to the importation of nicotine-containing electronic cigarette fluids that will seriously affect the estimated 227,000 regular e-cigarette users in Australia.

$26m funding injection for cardiovascular and cancer research

University of Sydney News and Opinion, 29 June 2020: The University of Sydney has been awarded more than $26m for critical research into cardiovascular disease, brain cancer, autism, and to trial a vaccine for zoonotic disease Q fever.


16–29 June 2020

Better pregnancy health labels on alcohol a ‘whole-of-community issue’

News GP, 29 June 2020: Healthcare organisations and individuals around Australia are calling for clear and consistent labelling to expand harm-minimisation strategies.

Massive boost to outdoor exercise in Sydney’s green spaces during coronavirus, survey finds

ABC News, 28 June 2020: Sydneysiders’ use of green spaces has increased dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic as people were forced out of gyms and public swimming pools to exercise.

Australian bushfire season’s long-term health effects

ABC News, 28 June 2020: The long-term health effects of the prolonged exposure to bushfire smoke is now being investigated by the University of Technology Sydney and the Centenary Institute.

‘Our diet is killing us quietly’: Fiji’s diabetes crisis

The Guardian, 27 June 2020: Nearly one-third of Fijians have diabetes, and the disease is often not caught until amputation, or even death, are imminent.

Misconceptions, lack of targeted communication key reasons for low flu vaccine uptake in Aboriginal adults

UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 26 June 2020: A new study explored why flu vaccine uptake is so low in NSW’s Aboriginal adults with influenza hospitalisation rates are five times higher in Aboriginal people – likely because of higher rates of chronic disease – and uptake of the flu vaccine in Aboriginal people is low, at only 29 per cent in Aboriginal 18-49-years-olds and 51 per cent in 50-64 year-olds.

Why Australia should make it as easy as possible for smokers to switch to vaping

Sydney Morning Herald, 26 June 2020: Vaping nicotine is a popular exit strategy for smokers who are unable to quit using current treatments. It is more effective than nicotine patches and gums and for many it is a safer long-term replacement to prevent relapse to smoking.

A lifetime of free lunch checks for workers to halt dust disease

Sydney Morning Herald, 26 June 2020: Thousands of mine and quarry workers will now have free lung health checks for the rest of their lives if they want the testing. The measure will see about 15,000 workers given free screenings for life, as the Queensland Government moves to support workers with one of the lung dust diseases which have re-emerged in recent years.

Multiple environmental factors linked to childhood obesity, first of its kind study shows

The Sector, 25 June 2020: Children who are exposed to smoking and air pollution and children who live in densely populated areas with low walkability have been pinpointed as being more likely to be obese says an international study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health and the University of Southern California.

Commonly prescribed kidney medication ‘ineffective’: clinical trial

UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 25 June 2020: Medication prescribed to one in five chronic kidney disease patients ineffective, a major clinical trial has found.

Obesity in over-50s linked to dementia

News.com.au, 24 June 2020: A new study suggests people who obese in their 50s have a higher risk of dementia later in life than those of the same age with normal weight.

Lift in dementia, diabetes and pneumonia deaths this year: ABS

Sydney Morning Herald, 24 June 2020: Deaths from pneumonia, diabetes and dementia have spiked above longer-term averages through the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals.

Going viral: Museum of Human Disease launches virtual museum

UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 22 June 2020: Online visitors can see how diseases – including past epidemics – affect real human organs, and see up close how diseases like cancer, heart disease and obesity affect the body.

Migraine with aura linked to cardiovascular disease

ABC Radio Health Report, 22 June 2020: New research has found that migraine with aura is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, increasing the change of stroke or heart attack more than obesity.

The health risks of casual smoking

ABC Radio Health Report, 22 June 2020: Even 6-10 cigarettes a month doubles the risk of death from smoking-related illness, according to a US study of more than half a million adults.

New treatment plan may increase cardiac survival and reduce stroke risk

University of Sydney News & Opinion, 18 June 2020: Digital tools giving cardiac conditions a helping hand with personalised support for patients, which will translate to other chronic diseases in the future.


1–16 June 2020

New research preventing blindness in Indigenous communities

Flinders University News, 16 June 2020: Diabetes-related blindness is three times more likely to impact Indigenous Australians compared to the rest of the population, affecting 19% of Aboriginal Australian adults with type 2 diabetes despite being a preventable condition with early detection and timely treatment.

Booze ads designed to keep you laughing all the way to the bottle shop

The George Institute News: 16 June 2020: ‘Get them laughing to get them drinking’ seems to be the motto of the alcohol industry according to an analysis of alcohol ads displayed across a range of media types, with 18% of ads depicting humour.

Essential components of dietary restriction revealed

University of Sydney Newsroom: 11 June 2020: Researchers explore new diet approach which provides insights into the roles of amino acids in metabolic health, warding off obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Why our hearts fail: largest human heart bank advances understanding of heart failure

University of Sydney Newsroom, 11 June 2020: Australian researchers have made several new heart failure discoveries in an innovative world-first project examining cryo-preserved human hearts procured after transplantation.

Research finds coronavirus had a bigger impact on women’s drinking and experts are surprised

ABC News, 10 June 2020: As women struggled under the increased pressure of caregiving, home-schooling and working from home during the coronavirus lockdown, they quickly increased their alcohol intake at a higher rate than men. Experts are now concerned some won’t be able to shake their new habits.

If Australia really wants to tackle mental health after coronavirus, we must take action on homelessness

UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 10 June 2020: Australia has managed to house the homeless in hotels during the COVID-19 pandemic. We now have an opportunity to think about longer-term solutions.

Government tags $29m for heart, stroke research

The Australian, 5 June 2020: Almost $30 million in federal funding will be used to support medical research into the nation’s two biggest killers, heart disease and stroke.

COVID-19 significantly impacts health services for noncommunicable diseases

WHO online news, 1 June 2020: WHO survey, completed by 155 countries during a 3-week period in May, confirmed the impact on the prevention and treatment services for chronic diseases is global.


25 May–1 June 2020

Mount Isa artist new work on diabetes impact to First Nations

North West Star, 1 June 2020: Diabetes Australia has partnered with a Mount Isa artist on a new artwork to tell the story of diabetes and its significant impact on Frist Nations people, released on Monday in National Reconciliation Week.

Hobart suburbs have highest smoking rates in Australia

ABC News, 28 May 2020: About one in three adults in the Bridgewater-Gagebrook area of Hobart smoke, the highest smoking rate in Australia. Coronavirus has been an opportunity to stop with the rate dropping from 39 to 33 per cent according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Rural life not as active as you think: new study

University of Sydney News and Opinion, 28 May 2020: A systematic review and meta-analysis combined data from 28 Australian studies and over 500,00 participants. It shows only 52 per cent of rural populations and 54 per cent of Australia’s urban populations meet physical activity guidelines set by the World Health Organization.

Research into health benefits of green space receives funding

UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 26 May 2020: Research led by UNSW Sydney and the University of Glasgow on the health impacts of quality green space in cities has received funding from the UKRI-NHMRC.

Australia’s life expectancy stagnates as inequality widens

ABC Radio National, Health Report, 25 May 2020: Researcher from the University of Melbourne have noted adverse health behaviours such as smoking, alcohol consumption and poor diet were more prevalent among lower socio-economic groups, which may explain much of the widening socio-economic gap in mortality rates.

Growing inequalities in Australians’ life expectancy highlights city-country divide

The Guardian, 25 May 2020: Data shows premature deaths drastically higher in lowest socioeconomic areas, with smoking, obesity and lack of essential services a driving factor.

Coronavirus may increase Australia’s widening socio-economic gap in premature death rates

SBS News, 25 May 2020: University of Melbourne researchers say there have been substantial and widening socio-economic and geographical inequalities in life expectancy in Australia.


18–25 May 2020

Type 2 diabetes dramatically heightens dementia, cancer risk

Sydney Morning Herald, 25 May 2020: New research from Melbourne’s Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute suggests Australians with type 2 diabetes are up to three times more likely to be diagnosed with some of the most deadly types of cancers and up to 60 per cent more likely to develop dementia than the general population.

Some drinking more, but alcohol sales down

Sydney Morning Herald, 24 May 2020: Fears of a booze-fuelled lockdown are fading as new figures show sales of alcohol have plummeting by volume as well as value.

Concern for Australians missing vital GP visits

Hospital and Healthcare, 22 May 2020: Data from the Medicare Benefits Schedule reveals that tens of thousands of Australians with chronic diseases are putting themselves at risk by missing vital visits to their GP, with potentially life-saving cholesterol tests to manage and prevent heart disease being skipped.

Drug that’s been around for decades could be new weapon in obesity fight

9News, 22 May 2020: Antabuse, a medication prescribed for alcohol dependence, has also proved beneficial for weight loss and may be used to treat 12 million overweight or obese Australians.

Health experts call on supermarkets to promote healthier foods

ABC News, 18 May 2020: New research from Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre has found what’s on display at the checkout or at the end of the aisle is too often predominantly junk food. Health experts says by changing this, supermarkets have a real opportunity to positively influence the health and wellbeing of the community. Associate Professor Gary Sacks interviewed.


11–18 May 2020

Supermarkets claim to have our health at heart. But their marketing tactics push junk foods

The Conversation, 18 May 2020: A new report from a Prevention Centre project finds our supermarkets are overwhelmingly pushing junk food with 90% of staff-assisted checkout including displays of unhealthy food and drinks.

On the pandemic, and a case for Health in All Policies going forward

Croakey, 15 May 2020: Australian governments recently made a profound shift in their approach to health policy making, driven by the immensity and the urgency of the pandemic threat. 

Obesity predicted to cost WA $610 million per year by 2026

The Age, 15 May 2020: A report by Western Australia’s Department of Health found health conditions related to excess body mass were responsible for 9.3 per cent of all hospitalisations in 2016. The report projects that by 2026, such hospitalisations will have risen by 54 per cent – and the costs to the health system increased to $610 million – unless the problem is addressed.

Some practical tips for promoting walking, and tackling health inequities

croakey, 12 May 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing existing health inequities in Australia. One way to address these inequities is through taking steps to increase walking among disadvantaged groups.

COPD and smoking associated with higher COVID-19 mortality

Science Daily, 11 May 2020: Current smokers and people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have an increased risk of severe complications and higher mortality with COVID-19 infection, according to a new study.

Australian-made wearable biosensors to gather precision data on chronic disease

itnews, 8 May 2020: A wearable ‘smart patch’ being developed in Australia is touted as massive help for people experiencing chronic lifestyle-related diseases like Type 2 diabetes by gathering data on how their bodies react to different diets.


4–11 May 2020

How streets could become more liveable and inclusive post-coronavirus

UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 11 May 2020: Wider footpaths, separated cycleways and pedestrian-friendly streets could become the norm.

Mexico’s sugar tax

Health Report, ABC Radio National, 11 May 2020: Many public health experts including in Australia, argue that a tax on sugar sweetened beverages would reduce consumption and therefore potentially lower the risks of diabetes and obesity. One of the first countries to introduce a sugar tax on soft drinks was Mexico in 2014. They added just one peso – or around half a US cent – per litre.

Modelling the mental health impacts of COVID-19:

Health Report, ABC Radio National, 11 May 2020: This week the National Cabinet meets to consider a plan to deal with a new epidemic curve – suicides. Internationally recognised mathematical modelling by the University of Sydney has suggested 750 additional lives could be lost to suicide each year for the next five years. And one in four of these will be in young people. Includes an interview with Associate Professor Jo-An Atkinson.

Coronavirus Australia: Alcohol abuse a worrying side-effect

7News, 11 May 2020: Isolation, boredom and anxiety have affected people’s drinking habits and some may struggle to return to pre-coronavirus levels of alcohol consumption.

Coronavirus: Finity and UNSW study finds areas most at risk of virus outbreak in Australia

News.com.au, 10 May 2020: A newly-launched COVID-19 Susceptibility Index has ranked every postcode in Australia for the risk of a virus outbreak. The Index is based on the profile of significant comorbidities in the area’s population including age, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and lung disease.

QUT leads genomic research for better indigenous health outcomes

QUT News, 7 May 2020: QUT-led research to improve health outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by better understanding genetic association with chronic disease has received $1.6 million funding under the Federal Government’s Genomics Health Futures Mission.

Overweight people at greater risk from coronavirus, heightened by COVID-19 links to respiratory illness

ABC Science Online, 7 May 2020: New research is pointing to evidence that people affected by obesity or who are overweight might also make the impacts of COVID-19 more severe, particularly for those aged under 60.

How to eat like the animals for good health

University of Sydney News and Opinion, 6 May 2020: A new book explores how and why we eat, how appetites are fed and regulated, and how to avoid the over-consumption of fats and carbs, leading to obesity and the serious diseases that come with it.

New Australian study to investigate COVID-19 links with heart disease

Sydney Morning Herald, 5 May 2020: A nationwide study will investigate whether cardiovascular disease patients are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.

Coronavirus: Australia fears high obesity rates could lead to more virus deaths

News.com.au, 4 May 2020: More than 20 per cent of Australians could be at risk of suffering more sever virus symptoms if the country is hit by a second wave of cases.


27 April–4 May 2020

More than 300,000 UK smokers may have quit owning to Covid-19 fears

The Guardian, 4 May 2020: Health groups welcome survey suggesting that more than 300,000 in the UK may have quit smoking during the coronavirus crisis as evidence mounts that the habit makes them more vulnerable to Covid-19, a survey suggests. A further 550,000 have tried to quit, while 2.4 million have cut down, according to the joint study by YouGov and the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (Ash).

On the long road to reform for food security for remote communities

croakey, 3 May 2020: Longstanding concerns about food insecurity in remote and discrete Indigenous communities are coming to the fore during the pandemic, underscoring the need for meaningful reform.

Concerning drop in diabetes check-ups

The Australian, 2 May 2020: There has been a drop in patients presenting for diabetes check-ups during the coronavirus pandemic with a private pathology laboratory reporting a 32 per cent decrease in tests compared to February, and believe this is representative of falls across the country.

World renowned professor receives cardiovascular leadership grant

UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 30 April 2020: Professor Jack Kovacic has received a $2.5m cardiovascular leadership grant which will see him relocate to UNSW Sydney and the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.

We need green spaces in COVID-19 era

UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 29 April 2020: The design of building and cities needs to change after this pandemic – we need to minimise energy use, acknowledge climate change in order to live healthier and happier lives.

Will COVID-19 be our public health wakeup call?

Crikey, 29 April 2020: While Australia’s COVID-19 death rate may be comparably low, the impact and spread of the disease points to flaws in our public health, including comorbidities and underlying health conditions.

Evidence obesity is a risk factor for serious illness with coronavirus is mounting – even if you’re young

The Conversation, 28 April 2020: New research suggests obesity is a strong predictor of severe illness from COVID-19 particularly in those aged under 60 years.

Personalised nutrition smart patch to be developed in Australia

RMIT University Newsroom, 27 April 2020: A wearable smart patch will deliver precision data to help people personalise their diets and reduce their risk of developing lifestyle-related chronic disease like type 2 diabetes.


20–27 April 2020

Is being overweight a bigger risk factor than smoking?

ABC Radio Coronacast, 27 April 2020: Data from overseas suggests that after age, obesity is the biggest risk factor causing more problems than smoking with coronavirus patients.

Sugary drink consumption ‘still way too high’ despite long-term decline

Sydney Morning Herald, 27 April 2020: A new study shows a long-term decline in the sales of sugar-sweetened beverages by volume. Between 1997 and 2018, the volume of sugary drinks sold fell 27 per cent on a per capita basis. The average person is now consuming 6.4kg of added sugar in drinks a year, compared with 9kg in the late 1990s.

Neglecting GP research risks poor health outcomes

UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 27 April 2020: Poorer health outcomes might be the consequence of insufficient recognition and funding of general practice research.

Baked bean an unlikely nutrition star, and pandemic hit

ABC News Catalyst, 26 April 2020: As we bunker down at home, many of us have turned to an old favourite: baked beans. And while baked beans might not look particularly sexy, they’re a favourite among nutrition experts and have been shown to be beneficial in preventing and managing diabetes.

Australian health and transport experts call for space for safer walking and cycling

UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 23 April 2020: We need urgent measure to support safe walking, cycling and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scientists uncover evidence coronavirus could trigger diabetes in health adults

SBS News, 23 April 2020: A new study involving Australian researchers has found there is evidence COVID-19 could be causing diabetes in otherwise healthy adults. Elderly Australians with diabetes are also at an increased risk from coronavirus.

How do we keep the public onside as we regulate sugary drinks?

The Mandarin, 22 April 2020: Australians are major consumers of sugary drinks despite knowing the contribution to a range of health including obesity, type 2 diabetes, tooth decay and heart disease.  At the same time, we have been slow to take policy action, lagging behind nations such as the UK and Mexico where sugar taxes have already been implemented to demonstrable effect.

Time to think about the future of humanity as we face ten catastrophic risks

croakey, 22 April 2020: The Commission for the Human Future has issued an urgent call to action and has identified 10 key risks including rising food insecurity and failing nutritional quality.

Coronavirus reminds us how liveable neighbourhoods matter for our well-being

The Conversation, 22 April 2020: We are all finding out about neighbourhood liveability as we stay home for the coronavirus lockdown. What we learn about local strengths and weaknesses can help us improve our communities in future.

The coronavirus pandemic offers an opportunity to go back to the basics with health

ABC News, 21 April 2020: The basic pillars of good health help fend of a range of chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Refocusing on a healthy lifestyle and also leave us in better shape to fight the coronavirus by boosting immunity and supporting mental health.


14–20 April 2020

The coronavirus has made me so grateful for city parks. We should fight for them

The Guardian, 20 April 2020: Parks are one of the few spaces left to retain a sense of normalcy, but not everyone has easy access to them. The importance of green spaces to urban liveability and health.

Economic lockdown causes big reduction in air pollution globally

Sydney Morning Herald, 18 April 2020: Researchers believe the reduction in air pollution from a one-year lockdown could prevent 780,000 premature deaths globally.

What you need to know about COVID-19 if you have diabetes

Harvard Health Blog, 17 April 2020: Preliminary data from China suggests that people with diabetes and other pre-existing conditions are more likely to experience serious complications and death from COVID-19 than people without diabetes and other conditions.

Everything we know about smoking, vaping, marijuana, and coronavirus risk

Business Insider Australia, 17 April 2020: Data on cigarette smoking and COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, suggests people with smoking habits of any kind could be at increased risk.

Even in a pandemic, continue with routine health care and don’t ignore a medical emergency

The Conversation, 16 April 2020: Estimates suggest attendance at hospitals and general practices are down by as much as 50% and for those with chronic health conditions – who tend to get sicker than the overall population and are more likely to die – it’s essential to continue to seek medical care routinely.

COVID-19 and the risks of obesity

European Scientist, 16 April 2020: Obesity and chronic metabolic disease is killing COVID -19 patients as the baseline general health in many western populations were already in a horrendous state to begin with. In the UK and USA more than 60% of adults are overweight or obese. How is this relevant to COVID-19?


6–14 April 2020

Research finds child’s play reduces chronic disease

Charles Darwin University Newsroom, 14 April 2020: The better children can run, jump, kick, catch, throw and roll, the more active they will be in later life, according to research.

Australians with chronic illnesses urged to continue regular health check-ups

SBS News, 11 April 2020: Those living with chronic illnesses are asked to be vigilant during the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in them avoiding visiting their GP surgery and pathology clinics.

A daily hot bath could reduce your risk of heart disease

Business Insider Australia, 9 April 2020: A twenty-year, 30,000-person study has found that taking more frequent baths can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Obesity linked to earlier need for knee replacements

University of Western Australia Newsroom, 9 April 2020: A study led by UWA and Fiona Stanley Hospital and published in BMJ Journals has found obese patients undergo knee replacements around eight years earlier than those who are a regular weight.

For older people and those with chronic health conditions, staying active at home is extra important – here’s how

The Conversation, 7 April 2020: Periods of reduced physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic can affect our health, particularly older people and those with chronic disease.


30 March–6 April 2020

The war against sugar and type 2 diabetes

SBS, 1 April 2020: Excessive and sustained sugar consumption increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a metabolic disorder where the body can’t maintain healthy levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Are smokers more likely to catch COVID-19?

UNSW Newsroom, 1 April 2020: Those with a chronic lung disease are more prone to invasion and severe damage from other causes of inflammation. Smokers may be more vulnerable due to putting their hands to their mouths and inhaling repeatedly.

Panic buying of alcohol during coronavirus pandemic prompts new sales restrictions

ABC News, 30 March 2020: Liquor shops across Australia are putting limits on the amount of alcohol customers can buy in one transaction, in a bid to prevent panic buying during the coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus will devastate Aboriginal communities if we don’t act now

The Conversation, 19 March 2020: For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peopleCOVID-19 has great potential to wreak havoc, particularly those living in remote and very remote areas, are vulnerable. Around 50% of adult First Nations people live with one of the major chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and cancer. Almost 25% have two or more of these chronic conditions.


16–30 March 2020

What we are learning about COVID-19 and those most at risk

The George Institute for Global Health News, 26 March 2020: Professor Christine Jenkins discusses the latest data on COVID-19, particularly in relation to high-risk groups: those with chronic ill-health and comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, lung and heart disease.

Coronavirus anxiety and self-isolation leading to higher use of alcohol, cannabis, experts say

ABC News, 26 March 2020: Health advocates are urging Australians cooped up indoors to maintain a daily routine and drink in moderation.

What happens when someone gets coronavirus, what are the symptoms as it gets worse and how can it kill?

ABC News, 25 March 2020: Those in vulnerable populations – with chronic medical conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples who have higher rates of chronic illness – are at risk of having severe symptoms from COVID-19 or even dying. How does this happen?

What can the coronavirus teach us about healthy cities?

Foreground, 24 March 2020: COVID-19 has laid bare the weaknesses in the way we design and occupy our cities. Professor Billie Giles-Corti discusses how we might build healthier neighbourhoods and communities.

Psychiatrists press for sweeping expansion of telehealth as part of pandemic responses

croakey, 21 March 2020: NSW psychiatrists have written to Federal Health Minister calling for all existing psychiatrist MBS items numbers to be deliverable by telehealth in order to deal with the anxiety and distress around the pandemic and associated concerns, as well as existing mental health and wellbeing issues.

Alcohol labelling: Poll shows many still in dark over risk during pregnancy

Sydney Morning Herald, 19 March 2020: Despite strong health concerns by doctors, the alcohol industry is lobbying governments to stop a striking red and black label warning pregnant women about the dangers of alcohol.


9–16 March 2020

How the Government plans to spend $2.4 billion protecting Australians against coronavirus

ABC News, 16 March 2020: Up to 100 coronavirus fever clinics will be set up a new Medicare item created to deliver health advice remotely, as part of a new $2.4 billion Federal Government package designed to help protect Australians against coronavirus. This means that those with a chronic disease needing treatment could consult their GP over Skype. 

Advice to help stop heart attacks for Indigenous Australians

ANU Newsroom, 16 March 2020: To combat high risk of heart attack and strokes, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need their heart checked by a GP by age 18 at the latest, according to new national recommendations.

Safer cities: the case for open data

UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 16 March 2020: Freely available public data could help shape better cities that are accessible and inclusive.

More green, more ‘zzzzz’? Trees may help us sleep

The Conversation, 16 March 2020: About 12–19% of adults in Australia regularly don’t get enough sleep, defined as less than 5.5–6 hours each night. But who’d have thought the amount of tree cover in their neighbourhood could be a factor? Research has shown that more green space and more tree cover in particular could help reduce levels of cardiometabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes.

Urgent calls for more resources to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from COVID-19

croakey, 13 March 2020: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are already facing overstretched or under-resourced healthcare services which are not sufficient to meet the COVID-19 pandemic, say leaders. As well, existing comorbidities increase the susceptibility to the virus and its spread.

How to protect Australia’s most vulnerable people from coronavirus

The Guardian, 12 March 2020: The groups with the highest risk of serious illness from COVID-19 are the elderly, people with suppressed immunities, and people with relevant co-morbidities. People with chronic health conditions – heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, hypertension – are also at higher risk, as are people with suppressed immunity.

Why our ideas about diabetes are well overdue for an update

Sydney Morning Herald, 13 March 2020: Diabetes affects around 1.7 million Australians and costs an estimated $15 billion per year in direct and indirect costs, but are the guidelines around the best way to treat and prevent it confusing to the population? Are our ideas about those with diabetes unfair and dated?

What is the mechanism behind high blood pressure in obesity?

MedicalNewsToday, 13 March 2020: Many people with obesity also develop high blood pressure, but the mechanism that leads to this remains unclear. A new study using human tissue samples and mouse models may now have found an explanation.

How intermittent fasting changes liver enzymes and helps prevent disease

University of Sydney News, 11 March 2020: Research on mice reveals surprising impact on fat metabolism. Scientists hope to unlock the mechanisms by which intermittent fasting improves health outcomes to support treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The George Institute scores $53 million for chronic disease

Financial Review, 10 March 2020: The independent health research organisation has raised $53 million to help it commercialise therapies to tackle chronic diseases such as health disease and diabetes.

Daily avocado consumption improves attention in persons with overweight, obesity

Science Daily, 10 March 2020: A diet including daily avocado consumption improves the ability to focus attention in adults whose measurements of height and weight are categorised as overweight or obese, a new randomised control trial found.


2–9 March 2020

How supermarkets are controlling your diet (and your weight)

Sydney Morning Herald, 9 March 2020: Our local outlets play a much bigger role in what we eat than we may realise.

Aboriginal Birth Cohort study reaches 32 years of looking at health in the NT community

ABC News, 9 March 2020: Since 32-year-old Aidan Hill was born, his medical history has been meticulously documented as part of the Menzies School of Health Research’s Aboriginal Birth Cohort study, the longest and largest study of Aboriginal people in Australia. The study is to help understand more about the causes of chronic conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease and improve the wellbeing of Indigenous Australians.

Australia’s first public stool bank is paying people

ABC News, 9 March 2020: BiomeBank aims to increase accessibility to faecal transplants to treat chronic bowel disorders so they are encouraging more people to donate faeces. The stool is used for patients requiring faecal microbiota transplantation, a breakthrough treatment with a 90% cure rate of chronic bowel disorders.

Offline: Failure, and why we should fear

The Lancet, 7 March 2020: The Lancet Commission into Liver Disease launched its final report last month in the UK. The Commission has worked for six years to persuade politicians and policy makers that liver disease and its proximal determinants including obesity and alcohol, should be taken seriously.

Canberra’s retailers suffered the nation’s biggest downturn this summer as alcohol, takeaway boosted

ABC News, 7 March 2020: As bushfires raged and heavy smoke fell on Canberra this summer, alcohol consumption soared in January alone, while over the whole season Canberrans turned to takeaway and hardware.

Transforming post-hospital care for people with heart disease

University of Sydney News, 6 March 2020: Despite advances in preventing death from Australia’s biggest killer, our approach to after-hospital care has largely not changed for 50 years; a new project is set to reform cardiac rehabilitation and care for people with heart disease.

Low-carb diet may reverse age-related brain deterioration

The Guardian, 6 March 2020: Researchers say brain pathways begin to erode in late 40s but can be repaired through dietary changes.

The countries most ready to deal with ageing populations

The Mandarin, 3 March 2020: As populations age, the size of the non-working population starts to grow and so too do health issues.

How much food should my child be eating? And how can I get them to eat more healthily?

The Conversation, 3 March 2020: Just one in 17 Australian children eats the recommended daily serves of vegetables. But it’s tough getting kids to eat healthy foods. These tips might help.

NACCHO leads PBS listing of medication to improve eye health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

NACCHO News, 2 March 2020: The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has led a successful submission the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee for an expansion to the listing of Prednefrin Forte on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Prednefrin is a medication used to treat eye inflammation and swelling that is often considered first-line therapy by ophthalmologists after cataract surgery to treat eye disease, which is more common in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared to other Australians.

Dietary guidelines tweak for type 2 diabetes could slash $1b from public hospital spend

6PR News Talk Radio, 3 March 2020: A parliamentary inquiry calls for low-carbohydrate diets to be one of three options formally offered to type 2 diabetes patients, rather than a push towards insulin.

The benefits of exercise for children’s mental health

The New York Times, 2 March 2020: Even light physical activity among adolescents was linked to better mental health as they got older, new research published in The Lancet Psychiatry shows.


24 February–2 March 2020

Smallpox, seatbelts and smoking: 3 ways public health has saved lives from history to the modern day

The Conversation, 2 March 2020: Coronavirus has necessitated a global public health response. But what does ‘public health’ actually mean? Three key examples give us an idea of what public health looks like in action.

CCTV footage is being used to study suicide, raising ethical concerns

ABC News, 29 February 2020: We shed data every day that offers insight into our wellbeing and state of mind. Now a study of CCTV footage at a known suicide hotspot raises ethical questions.

Common toxin made in gut can cause bowel cancer, scientists find

The Guardian, 28 February 2020: Discovery suggests screening for bug that creates toxin could prevent thousands of cases.

UNSW academics say government response to Ice enquiry ‘disappointing’

UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 28 February 2020: The NSW government has already ruled out five recommendations from the Ice inquiry, including pill testing and more medically supervised injecting centres.

Aboriginal Community Housing Ltd says Closing the Gap fails to address homelessness and housing

National Indigenous Times, 27 February 2020: With only two of seven targets on track in the 2020 Closing the Gap report including life expectancy, which is affected by health and social determinants such as education, employment and housing.

Let’s ‘declare war on type 2 diabetes’ – Australian of the year James Muecke on why we need to cut back on sugar

The Conversation, 27 February 2020: We’re hardwired to love sweet things, but too much sugar is leading to an increase in type 2 diabetes. Here’s what individuals and policymakers can do cut our collective sugar intake.

Opioid prescriptions for ch­­­­­ronic non-cancer pain doubled in 24 years

University of Sydney News, 26 February 2020: A review of 24 years of global research has shown opioid prescribing doubled between 1919–2015, with demand most common for chronic conditions such as lower back pain, finds new research.

‘Friends with benefits’: unmasking the ties between Australian retailers and Big Tobacco

croakey, 26 February 2020: Several international investigations have found that tobacco companies target retailers through competitive incentive programs, aimed at building positive relationships with retailers. Relationship marketing enables tobacco companies to influence both the pricing and the merchandising of tobacco products, which ultimately influences the sale and promotion of tobacco.

Ulcerative colitis: bacteria findings raise hopes for new treatment

The Guardian, 26 February 2020: Sufferers found to have low levels of gut microbes that convert bile acids into other substances in this chronic condition.

One in 10 people not filling prescriptions because of cost

Sydney Morning Herald, 26 February 2020: More than one in 10 people in parts of Sydney say they have avoided or delayed filling a prescription because of cost and one in five people across Australia put off visiting the dentist.

If you’re ageing and on medication, it might be time to re-assess your alcohol intake

The Conversation, 25 February 2020: The number of older people who drink heavily is on the rise, increasing the risk of alcohol-related diseases. Between 2007 and 2016, there was a 17% increase in risky drinking among Australians aged 60–69. Among women, those aged 50–59 years are now more likely to drink at risky levels (13%) than any other age group.

Don’t believe the myths – taxing sugary drinks makes us drink less of it

croakey, 24 February 2020: Last year, a summary of 17 studies found health taxes on sugary drinks implemented in Berkeley and other places in the United States, Mexico, Chile, France and Spain reduced both purchases and consumption of sugary drinks.


17–24 February 2020

$900,000 commitment to support families dealing with alcohol and drug issues

Department of Health Media Centre, 24 February 2020: The Australian Government is providing $900,00 to Family Drug Support Australia so it can continue providing a free 24-hour support line for families dealing with drug issues, to help reduce the impacts of drug and alcohol misuse.

National approach “urgently needed” for smoke pollution

Australian National University Newsroom, 24 February 2020: Experts are calling for an independent national expert committee on air pollution and health protection to be urgently established following the catastrophic bushfire season in Australia. In a paper published online today by the Medical Journal of Australia they also warn Australia can’t wait for the results of the Bushfires Royal Commission to act on this vital health issue. More investment in air pollution research is urgently needed, particularly into the longer term effects of smoke pollution.

Alcohol too easy for minors to buy online

UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 24 February 2020: Tougher laws for online alcohol sales are needed to prevent under-18s and people with an alcohol dependency from buying liquor at the touch of a button, UNSW public health researchers say.

New Zealand bans vaping ads, sales to minors

10 daily, 23 February 2020: New Zealand is moving to ban advertising for e-cigarettes and the sale of such products to anyone under 18 after a string of vaping-related deaths in the US.

Sydney and the seven deadly sins of city-making

Sydney Morning Herald, 21 February 2020: It’s often said that we get the cities we deserve and because our cities shape us, as much as we shape them, these habitable artefacts amplify our virtues – and our vices. What are the seven deadly sins of city planning?

The sole nutritionist tackling obesity in one of the heaviest towns in Australia

Katherine Times, 20 February 2020: Last year, Katherine in WA earned the title of most overweight and obese town in Australia, with almost 80 per cent of the adults tipping the scale. It also had the second highest rate of obesity in Australia – 43 per cent and almost twice the rate found in Darwin. One nutritionist has been working towards a ‘whole town approach’.

Assessing and scoring pain levels in real time for better care

Healthcare IT, 19 February 2020: According to a paper Pain Management in the Elderly Population: A Review, pain may be underreported because some elderly patients believe that pain is a normal process of ageing. Assessing pain levels can be subjective and inaccurate. However, an Australia-based company has developed the world’s first smart phone-based pain assessment and monitoring app.

Gaps can be closed, but only with the right tools

croakey, 18 February 2020: Dismay at the failure of progress revealed in the recent Closing the Gap report, was tempered by cautious optimism that an agreement fostered between the Council of Australian Governments and the Indigenous Coalition of Peaks might represent a turning point that will see health gaps start to close, if the partnership is “more than window dressing”.

Insufficient evidence backing herbal medicines for weight loss

University of Sydney News, 17 February 2020: Researchers from the University of Sydney have conducted the first global review of herbal medicines for weight loss in 19 years, finding insufficient evidence to recommend any current treatments.

Thank you, taxpayers, for smoking

Sydney Morning Herald, 17 February 2020: As Australians have weaned themselves off tobacco, one part of the country has become more addicted to cigarettes and smoking. The federal budget. So addicted is the budget to the revenues gleaned from smokers that if this year the government delivers a surplus, it will be solely due to the nation’s smokers.


10–17 February 2020

The tick-a-box GP – a bureaucrat’s dangerous fantasy

Sydney Morning Herald, 17 February 2020: The government is warning doctors to treat physical and mental illness in separate consultations. It’s a dangerous distinction, says Elizabeth Oliver.

Skateboarding an agent of change for the kids of remote Onslow in WA

ABC News, 17 February 2020: Teachers and Indigenous elders in the mining town of Onslow in the Pilbara say participation in after-school skate clinics is making a huge difference to children aged between 8 and 12, keeping children positively engaged, looking after their physical, social and emotional health. It is also reducing truancy.

‘Complex’ issue of type 1 diabetes to be addressed in schools

News.com.au, 16 February 2020: The ‘Diabetes in Schools program’ aims to develop a deliver a nationally consistent training program for both school-staff and teachers, to be able to safely administer and manage students who are impacted by the disease.

How AI can predict heart attacks and strokes

Time, 14 February 2020: Researchers in the UK and the US report that an AI program can reliably predict heart attacks and strokes.

Living a healthy life with diabetes

ABC Radio, 14 February 2020: On Medical Matters this week Joel Rhienberger learn how to live a healthy and long life with diabetes.

Green tea extract combined with exercise reduces fatty liver disease in mice

Science Daily, 14 February 2020: The combination of green tea extract and exercise reduced the severity of obesity-related fatty liver disease by 75% in mice fed a high-fat diet, according to researchers, whose recent study may point to a potential health strategy for people.

Why older women don’t think the alcohol guidelines apply to them

Sydney Morning Herald, 13 February 2020: Older women are drinking at risky levels and don’t feel the alcohol guidelines apply to them, a new study reveals.

Closing the Gap report shows only two targets on track as PM pushes for Indigenous-led refresh

ABC News, 13 February 2020: As another Closing the Gap report lays bare the extent of Indigenous disadvantage in Australia, Scott Morrison declares a “top-down” approach is failing and will be replaced by a plan developed by Indigenous people. Gains in Indigenous health have been the same or smaller than those for non-Indigenous Australians – meaning gaps are persisting and, in the case of child mortality, widening.

National fitness project to encourage more exercise in over 65s

Talking Aged Care, 13 February 2020: Researchers form the University of the Sunshine Coast will contribute to a new national project aiming to encourage more weekly exercise among people over the age of 65

Your skin reveals your age – but no in the way you think

ABC News, 12 February 2020: Researchers can predict your chronological age from the microbes found on and in your body and, in future, we may see interventions that target our microbiomes to reverse the effects of ageing or to prevent the onset of age-related disease.


3–10 February 2020

Sugary drink consumption plunges in Chile after new food law

New York Times, 12 February 2020: Four years after Chile embraced the world’s most sweeping measures to combat mounting obesity, a partial verdict on their effectiveness is in: Chileans are drinking a lot fewer sugar-laden beverages, according to study published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Depression memes may be a coping mechanism for people with mental illness

The Conversation, 12 February 2020: Depressive memes have received a bad reputation for promoting mental health problems. However, our research shows that for those experiencing depression, it can actually have the opposite effect

We’re in danger of drowning in a coronavirus ‘infodemic’. Here’s how we can cut through the noise

The Conversation, 12 February 2020: Misinformation can also undermine people’s willingness to follow legitimate public health advice. In extreme cases, people don’t acknowledge the disease exists, and fail to take proven precautionary measures.

Strength training can help protect the brain from degeneration

University of Sydney News, 11 February 2020: For the first time, an intervention – lifting weights – has been able to slow and even halt degeneration, in brain areas particularly vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease. This finding may change the dementia prevention message.

Primary care push for a social prescribing scheme

croakey, 11 February 2020: Social prescribing is popular with both doctors and patients but the infrastructure and funding are lacking, according to a new report calling for the practice to become a routine part of primary care in Australia.

Diet soft drinks aren’t worse for you than their sugary counterparts. Here’s why

ABC Health, 9 February 2020: While it’s well known that sugary soft drinks are bad for your health, there’s also a fair bit of scepticism around about drinks that are sweetened with things that aren’t sugar.

Winter wheelies: Finland blazes trail in keeping citizens cycling and healthy

The Guardian, 7 February 2020: A now-national government scheme called Finnish Schools on the Move – also represented at the congress – finds ways for more children to walk or cycle to school, and then keeps them active in the classroom, using movement in lessons or giving pupils standing desks or balls to sit on rather than chairs.

More evidence links red and processed meat to cardiovascular disease

ABC Health, 5 February 2020: You don’t have to be a heavy meat eater to face a small but increased risk of heart disease or death, new research shows.

Bushfire smoke, air pollution and the law

ABC Radio National, 4 February 2020: The impact of this summer’s bushfires has been devastating. What is less clear are the health consequences of smoke inhalation and the legal implications for employers. Some recent Australian and international court cases may provide a guide.


27 January–3 February 2020

New diabetes monitoring to be free: Hunt

The Canberra Times, 2 February 2020: Australians with type one diabetes will soon have free access to a new glucose monitoring system through a $300 million Morrison government initiative.

Hazardous smoke waves: governments must do more to protect public health

croakey, 1 February 2020: The Federal Government has been urged to introduce an AirSmart campaign ahead of next year’s bushfire season. Smoke waves are known to contain high levels of PM2.5  which is known to have the highest impact in terms of premature deaths. The health risks from exposure include development of chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, including asthma and emphysema, and increases in lung cancer mortality.

Heat kills. We need consistency in the way we measure these deaths

The Conversation, 31 January 2020: One of the most confronting impacts of climate change is the risk of more deaths from hot weather. Heat stress can exacerbate existing health conditions including diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease.

The missing middle in social services

The Mandarin, 31 January 2020: In Victoria’s health system, there are general practitioners to care for minor issues and tertiary hospitals for complex healthcare, but there are few services available in the middle to prevent issues like chronic illnesses or obesity.

Don’t believe the myths – taxing sugary drinks makes us drink less of it

The Conversation, 30 January 2020: Taxing sugary drinks, would increase the cost by around 20%. The money raised could be used to fund health promotion programs.

When this community took on the obesity epidemic, it came up with 400 solutions

ABC News, 29 January 2020: In 2014, more than 20 per cent of adults in the Southern Grampians in Victoria were categorised as being obese, and almost 54 per cent were overweight. The town of Hamilton came up with its own solutions to meet the problem head-on.

Reform needed to counter cancer overdiagnosis

University of Sydney News, 29 January 2020: Overdiagnosis is an increasing issue, with Australians now more likely to experience cancer diagnosis for five major cancer types compared to 30 years ago, but with no rise in mortality.

Tasmanian grandmother’s ‘smoking vs eating’ challenge highlights the cost of cigarettes

7News, 28 January 2020: A Tasmanian grandmother has come up with an eye-opening challenge to help warn her grandchildren of the cost of smoking, and not just in health terms.

More than 30 per cent of Australians don’t get regular eye checks

Sydney Morning Herald, 23 January 2020: Despite the fact more than half of Australia’s population have an eye condition, just over one in 10 people have never had their eyes checked.

Sport can be an important part of Aboriginal culture for women – but many barriers remain

The Conversation, 23 January 2020: Regular exercise is important for Indigenous women’s health, as it protects against obesity and chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, but participation rates are low. In 2012 only 23.3% of Indigenous women played sport, walked for fitness or leisure, compared to 66.7% of non-Indigenous women.


20–27 January 2020

Talkback: the rise of the anti-diet

ABC Radio National Life Matters, 28 January 2020: Research shows that only three per cent of those who diet keep the weight off long-term.

GPs cautiously recommend e-cigarettes to help smokers give up

Sydney Morning Herald, 28 January 2020: The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners said that prescribing options for nicotine replacement therapies should be widened to include the use of nicotine-based e-cigarettes.

The 2020 Australian of the Year, ophthalmologist James Mueke calling for a tax on sugar to help prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes

ABC News, 27 January 2020: Australian of the Year calls for tax on sugar to help prevent diabetes which is now affecting one in 10 of the population.

Obesity, second to smoking as the most preventable cause of US deaths, needs new approaches

The Conversation, 27 January 2020: Obesity is second only to cigarette smoking as a leading preventable death in the US. Nearly one in five deaths of African Americans and Caucasians age 40 to 85 is attributed to obesity, a rate that is increasing across generations.

Older women are frailer but more resilient than men, study shows

The New Daily, 26 January 2020: In Australia, women are more resilient and have a longer life expectancy than men, despite the fact they tend to be frailer and have poorer health in old age, finds a narrative review on frailty published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

The link between antibiotics and obesity in children doesn’t mean you need to avoid antibiotics

The Conversation, 24 January 2020: Australian children have one of the highest rates of antibiotic use in the world, with more than half receiving at least one course by their first birthday. Research about the effects of antibiotic use in early life on longer term health shows an increase in the risk of asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and obesity.

Debating Aboriginal identity: the untold health impacts

croakey, 24 January 2020: Divisive debates about Aboriginal health are causing harm and impacting health, long-term, says Yorta Yorta woman and public health academic.

Port Augusta tips the scales on obesity rates in South Australia

The Transcontinental Port Augusta, 24 January 2020: Port Augusta and Quorn rank amongst the highest rates of adult obesity in the state, according to new research from the Public Health Information Development Unit at Torrens University, 44.8 per cent of adults are considered obese while the rate of diabetes also sits alarmingly high at 9.2 per cent.

Six steps to successful weight loss for women

University of Sydney News, 21 January 2020: Obesity researcher Dr Nick Fuller outlines his six key steps to healthy weight loss for women, using his evidence-based Interval Weight Loss approach.


13–20 January 2020

Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes may be communicable

MedicalXpress, 17 January 2020: Non-communicable diseases including heart disease, cancer and lung disease are now the most common causes of death, accounting for 70 percent of deaths worldwide. New research provides evidence that many diseases may be transmissible through microbes that live in and on our bodies.

Tiny miracle pills could end diabetes’ lethal impact on the liver and pancreas

The New Daily, 17 January 2020: Australian researchers have developed tiny capsules that are able to effectively target the liver and pancreas and reduce the inflammatory effects of type 2 diabetes.

Shade mapping tool helps pedestrians dodge heat

Government News, 16 January 2020: Bendigo Council has adopted a new tool which helps residents seek out routes with the most shade coverage to avoid the heat. The Shadeways tool, developed by researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, uses satellite imagery to generate a ‘temperature likelihood’ monitor.

Women’s blood vessels age more quickly, leading to earlier heart disease

healthline, 15 January 2020: Research shows that a woman’s blood vessels age more quickly than a man’s, an accelerated ageing process which may begin as early as in their 30s. This can cause a rise in blood pressure and lead to a number of cardiovascular diseases in women.

Fat fighter: trials for obesity reversing drug underway

HealthEuropa, 15 January 2020: Researchers have discovered a potential new drug that prevents obesity in mice.

Israeli researchers create algorithm to predict gestational diabetes

The Times of Israel, 15 January 2020: Scientists at the Weizmann Institute say they can identify women at risk even before they get pregnant, after they answer nine questions.

Urgent action on diet needed to stem rising tide of chronic disease in less developed nations

MedicalXpress, 14 January 2020: Researchers from the George Institute for Global Health investigating differences in diet and related disease risk factors between men and women in lower income countries instead found an alarming degree of poor dietary habits that likely masked effects of gender.

Sign up to Australia’s Health Panel and help shape a healthier future

Croakey, 13 January 2020: The Consumers Health Forum has established Australia’s Health Panel to take the pulse of Australian opinions on contemporary health issues. These responses to the survey help us not only to keep our supporters aware of community attitudes but also to influence the policies we take to government.

Overweight and obesity and rates of weight-related hospitalisations in the Hunter are above the NSW average

Newcastle Herald, 12 January 2020: The number of Hunter people hospitalised for reasons related to being overweight and obese is higher than the state average, NSW Health data shows.


6–13 January 2020

Drinking wine can be as damaging to a women’s health as smoking cigarettes, research finds

7News.com.au, 12 January 2020: The rise of the daily “wine o’clock” habit for Australian mums is poised to have significant health implications, with research showing for women, even drinking half a bottle of wine a day increases the risk of breast cancer and is equal to smoking five cigarettes.

Tobacco giants lobby PM and key MPs with pro-vaping message

ABC News, 10 January 2020: International tobacco companies have sought meetings with the Prime Minister and leading cabinet members in an effort to overturn Australia’s ban on nicotine vaping.

Molecular ‘doormen’ open the way to potential obesity treatment

ScienceDaily, 10 January 2020: Fat cells are filled with droplets coated by molecules that act like hotel doormen: These ‘doormen’ control cellular access for nutrients as well as for the exit of energy-supplying molecules called lipids. In healthy individuals, outgoing and incoming traffic in fat cells is finely balanced, supplying energy while preventing excessive spread of undesirable fat in the belly.

Childhood anaemia doubles the risk of learning difficulties, study finds, with more dietitians needed in remote communities

ABC News, 10 January 2020: Babies with anaemia in their first two years of life are twice as likely to struggle in school, with experts saying the problem could be contributing to poor education outcomes among Indigenous children.

Five healthy habits to live by

The Harvard Gazette, 9 January 2020: The Harvard Gazette, 9 January 2020: Maintaining five healthy habits — eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy body weight, not drinking too much alcohol, and not smoking — at middle-age may increase years lived free of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

New study looks to tackle food insecurity in regional Australia

SBS News, 9 January 2020: One in every three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people living in remote communities is struggling with a food security crisis.

Australia’s future needs better planning

National Geographic Australia, 8 January 2020: Australia’s largest cities are not preparing well for rapid population growth as a trend towards urbanisation continues unabated.

Where is the comprehensive public health response to the bushfire climate emergency?

croakey, 8 January 2020:   Federal and State Governments have issued various media statements on the bushfire crisis and health recently but is this an appropriate comprehensive response that a public health disaster of this scale merits?

Reversing diabetes with a new breakthrough treatment?

HealthEuropa, 8 January 2020: The NHS is currently positioning itself to adopt a new ‘breakthrough’ treatment plan for type-2 diabetes, following the success of the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial at Newcastle University, UK.

Poor air quality caused by bushfire smoke posing serious risk for healthy people too, health experts warn

ABC News, 7 January 2020: Doctors are warning even health people could develop serious illnesses, because of the smoke haze that’s blanketed parts of the country, including some of our major cities, for weeks on end.


16 December 2019–6 January 2020

Health impacts of bushfires won’t be known for years, experts say

Sydney Morning Herald, 6 January 2020: Australians breathing bushfire smoke will have to wait years to know what long-term health impacts they may suffer.

Planning rules ‘fuel obesity’ by favouring fast food over gyms, NHS chief warns

iNews, 5 January 2020: NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens has called for a rethink of planning laws that promote unhealthy lifestyles.

Doctors warn people may die as public health impact from the Australian fire pollution bites

The Guardian, 4 January 2020: Doctors say there will be unpredictable and lasting consequences, especially for children, the elderly and asthmatics.

Full-cream milk banishes child obesity? A new study suggests so

The New Daily, 4 January 2020: A systematic meta-analysis of 28 studies from seven countries found children who drank whole milk had a 40 per cent lower risk of being overweight or obese.

From the frontlines: public health and a suffocating city

croakey, 3 January 2020: It may take years before the full extent of the public health disaster from the effects of the Australian bushfires now unfolding across many Australian communities is properly understood.

Ecotherapy aims to tap into nature to improve wellbeing

The Conversation, 2 January 2020: As many as one in six adults experience mental health problems like depression or anxiety every week. And not only is mental ill-health one of the most common causes of disease worldwide, it’s also on the rise.

Smokers past and present ‘live in more pain’

BBC News, 1 January 2020: People who smoke, and even those who have given up, report living in more pain than those who have never picked up the habit, a new report from University College London suggests.

New treatment for ‘silent’ heart attack survivors could make hearts stronger and repair scar tissue

ABC News, 1 January 2020: People who suffer silent heart attacks could make dramatic recoveries using protein therapy to help repair scar tissue, a study at the University of Sydney’s Westmead Institute of Medical Research has found.

Why your brain needs exercise

Scientific American, 1 January 2020: The evolutionary history of humans explains why physical activity is important for brain health, and its impact on the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.

Tackling inflammation to fight age-related ailments

The New York Times, 23 December 2019: Body-wide inflammation is tied to most chronic diseases, limiting people’s health and longevity.

What can we learn from one community’s efforts to address #HeatwaveHealth?

Croakey, 19 December 2019: As much of Australia swelters in record-breaking heat, Sunshine in Melbourne’s western suburbs has showcased how one local community is responding to the serious health risks of heatwaves.

WHO launches new report on global tobacco use trends

WHO, 19 December 2019: For the first time, the World Health Organization projects that the number of males using tobacco is on the decline, indicating a powerful shift in the global tobacco epidemic. Overall global tobacco use has fallen over the past two decades, from 1.397 billion in 2000 to 1.337 billion in 2018, or by approximately 60 million people, according to the WHO global report on trends in prevalence of tobacco use 2000-2025 third edition.


10 December–16 December 2019

Governments must act on public health emergency from bushfire smoke, medical groups say

The Guardian, 16 December 2019: The 22 groups that link the bushfire smoke to climate change, saying lives are being put at risk.

National alcohol guidelines revised down as experts warn of strengthening links to cancer

ABC Online, 16 December 2019: In the first update in 10 years, health authorities have revised down what they say is a ‘safe’ level of alcohol intake.

Diabetes and pregnancy can be a tricky (but achievable) mix: 6 things to think about if you want a baby and 1 if you don’t

The Conversation, 12 December 2019: The number of people with diabetes is expected to increase from 463 million in 2019 to 700 million by 2045 globally. So, more women with diabetes will be having babies in the future.

‘Alcohol tax only punishes the poor’ argument doesn’t hold water

UNSW Sydney News, 10 December 2019: A UNSW Sydney study debunks the myth that an imposed floor on alcohol prices would drivess less wealthy, heavy drinkers to drink even more.

Pill testing trial backed by independent review

ANU News, 10 December: A ‘trailblazing’ trial run in the Australian Capital Territory, making pill testing available to festival goers, has been endorsed by an independent evaluation report.

Designing a health poverty line

The Health Report, ABC Radio National, 9 December 2019: According to leading health economist Professor Philip Clarke it may be too simplistic to describe health problems in disadvantaged populations separately from economic disadvantage. He suggests a measure called health poverty might be more effective in driving policies, spending and programs.


2 December–9 December 2019

Wet cough rate among Indigenous kids in WA’s Kimberley high, but study yields positive signs

ABC News, 9 December 2019: Researchers say they were surprised by the rate of wet cough, which can lead to chronic lung conditions, in WA’s Kimberley. But locals say the way the study was carried out will leave a lasting, positive legacy.

Torres Strait doctors issue call to arms over climate change impact on Indigenous health

The Guardian, 8 December 2019: A group of 23 doctors from the Torres Strait and northern Cape York is demanding action to protect remote Indigenous communities from a looming health emergency caused by climate change with low-lying islands and high rates of chronic disease making the population particularly vulnerable.

Smoke and bushfires are the new norm, so how do we beat the ‘airpocalypse’

ABC News, 6 December 2019: The message from authorities is simple: stay indoors and limit your exposure. But while that might work for a day or two, what happens when it becomes the new norm?

Limited eating times could be a new way to fight obesity and diabetes

The Conversation, 6 December 2019: People with obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure or high cholesterol are often advised to eat less and move more, but new research suggests there is now another simple tool to fight off these diseases: restricting eating time to a daily 10-hour window.

Patient advocacy groups team up to change federal health policy

Sydney Morning Herald, 5 December 2019: A group of 22 patient advocacy groups join forces to lobby the government to consider patients earlier and more often when developing health policy.

Making space: how designing hospitals for Indigenous people might benefit everyone

The Mandarin, 6 December 2019: Last year, a decision of a committee auspiced under the COAG Health council proposed segregated Indigenous waiting areas in the emergency departments of NSW public hospitals with the policy suggesting a link between Indigenous participation in health care and the design of health-care spaces.

How to deliver great policy advice

The Mandarin, 5 December 2019: Leaders from across the public and private sectors, and academia have come together to discuss delivering great policy advice as last month the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Institute of Public Administration Australia launched the Delivery Great Policy initiative.

Women in medicine are not given the respect they deserve, from their male colleagues or patients

The Guardian, 3 December 2019: A recent World Health Organization report highlights that women fill a staggering 70 per cent of healthcare roles but only a quarter of senior roles. In Australia when a prominent medical journal recently asked if there was gender equity in medicine, many Australian female doctors flatly said no.


25 November–2 December 2019

Why people with intellectual disability experience lower life expectancy: study

UNSW News, 2 December 2019: Researchers have shown why people with intellectual disability experience lower life expectancy and suggest better public health could improve outcomes.

Calcium and vitamin D supplements not necessary for healthy adults, research finds

ABC News, 29 November 2019: Taking vitamin D or calcium supplements? They’re probably not benefiting you and could even be doing you harm. Here’s what you should know.

Alcohol lobby says new pregnancy warning labels ‘too expensive’

Sydney Morning Herald, 29 November 2019: The alcohol lobby has launched a fresh offensive against the regulator’s mandatory pregnancy warning labels, claiming it will cost manufacturers $600 million to redesign their products.

Victoria’s Royal Commission into mental health says system ‘catastrophically failed’

croakey, 29 November 2019: Victoria is set to introduce a mental health ‘tax’, create a new community-controlled focus on social and emotional wellbeing for Aboriginal Victorians, establish the state’s first residential mental health service designed and run by people with lived experience, and greatly expand the consumer and carer workforce.

Pollution particles responsible for spike in UTIs, sepsis hospitalisations

Sydney Morning Herald, 28 November 2019: Exposure to tiny air pollution particles like the ones in bushfire smoke is sending people to hospital for a multitude of newly identified reasons including sepsis and urinary tract infections.

Indigenous communities in Nepean Blue Mountains increase access to mental health care

Blue Mountains Gazette, 28 November 2019: Indigenous communities throughout the Nepean Blue Mountains region now have increased access to mental health, drug and alcohol counselling delivered by Aboriginal health professionals.

Hibernating animals lend clues to obesity treatment: study

Xinhua, 27 November 2019: Scientists in the United States have detected new genetic clues about hibernation, which may lead to better understanding and treatment of obesity and metabolic disorders.

‘New normal’: Deaths by acute conditions dropping in public hospitals

Sydney Morning Herald, 27 November 2019: A report published by the Bureau of Health Information looked at mortality rates 30 days after patients were admitted to a NSW public hospital for heart attack, ischaemic stroke, haemorrhagic stroke, congestive heart failure, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and hip fracture surgery.

Mental health, environment top concerns for young Australians

SBS News, 27 November 2019: Mission Australia’s Youth Survey Report 2019 has found that mental health is the most pressing issue for Australia’s young people, closely followed by climate change.

Medical research ignoring women: report

SBS News, 25 November 2019: Researchers are calling on the Australian government to require better reporting of results on females in medical trials, with women being ignored too often.

Sex and gender in health research: updating policy to reflect evidence

The Medical Journal of Australia, 25 November 2019: Australia needs to align with other nations and implement sex and gender analysis in health and medical research, according to a report published in MJA.


18–25 November 2019

Commuter cycling: will Australia embrace salary sacrifice ride to work schemes?

Bicycling Australia: 25 November 2019: The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports almost 7 million people drive to work every day meaning for every bike commuter there are 56 car commuters on the road. Company schemes help to reduce this divide increasing cycling participation; helping to resolve congestion, improving health outcomes and positively impacting the environment.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease trials giving patients hope of a better life

ABC News, 25 November 2019: Dementia affects more than 400,000 Australians and is the country’s second-biggest cause of death and experts are warning of a dementia “tsunami” in the coming years.

Insomnia nation: 60 per cent of adults have sleep disorder symptoms

Sydney Morning Herald, 25 November 2019: More than one in seven Australians have full-blown insomnia, but the vast majority aren’t getting diagnosed or treated for sleep disorder linked to heart disease, diabetes and depression.

Academics in the bush to address health inequities: Does inequity in our own backyard need to be addressed first?

croakey, 24 November 2019: Rural health workforce shortages are a familiar challenge in addressing the health gap between rural and urban Australians. The focus is on providers of healthcare but shortages also impact the rural health university sector, responsible for training the next generation of rural health professionals.

Teens don’t get enough exercise, so how can we support them to be more physically active?

ABC News, 23 November 2019: Nine out of 10 Australian teens don’t get the recommended hour a day of physical activity with the nations towards the bottom of global activity rankings. Families, schools, communities and governments all have a role to play.

Health bureaucrats hit the road with ‘transformative’ new plan to tackle obesity

Sydney Morning Herald: 23 November 2019: More than 14 million people in Australia are overweight or obese, including two thirds of adults and a quarter of children.

Is there such a thing as the perfect exercise for overall health?

Sydney Morning Herald, 22 November 2019: Every day, a new headline comes out stating that exercise is good for us. We are told that adults aged 18 to 64 should be doing some physical activity every day, in addition to about 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity, each week.

140th out of 146: Australian teens do close to the least physical activity in the world

The Conversation, 22 November 2019: A global report looking at physical activity among 11-17 year olds has found 89% of young Australians don’t get enough physical activity. This puts us towards the very bottom of the pile.

What processed foods actually do to your heart

SMH, 21 November 2019: New research, presented this week at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions, found the more ultra-processed foods in our diet, the worse our heart health is.

These two Western Sydney streets are completely different temperatures — here’s why

ABC Online, 21 November 2019: Tracking the microclimates of specific suburbs found they were exposed to more extreme heat than recorded by the Bureau of Meteorology.

If weight loss is your only goal for exercise, it’s time to rethink your priorities

The Conversation, 20 November 2019: No matter how much you weigh, there are many benefits to starting exercise, from a reduced risk of heart disease to better mental health.

No link between statins and memory loss, major Australian study finds

Sydney Morning Herald, 19 November 2019: The most comprehensive study of its kind has found no link between statins and cognitive decline. In fact, it has found the opposite: the widely prescribed medication could help protect at-risk patients from dementia.


11–18 November 2019

Tackling obesity with a twist

ABC RN Ockham’s Razor, 17 November 2019: Professor Louise Baur is a physician specialising in obesity-related disease. She is collaborating with mathematicians, philosophers and economists to treat obesity.

New global and national reports on the climate and health crisis present urgent calls to action

croakey, 15 November 2019: Two new reports published in The Lancet and The Medical Journal of Australia have presented a bleak picture of the world’s response to the climate crisis, calling for an urgent escalation of mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Vaping illnesses have been linked to vitamin E acetate. So what now?

ABC News, 15 November 2019: Vaping-related illnesses have killed 39 people and made more than 2,000 others sick — and we might be one step closer to understanding why.

Research funding announcements have become a political tool, creating crippling uncertainty for academics

The Conversation, 15 November 2019: Uncertainty for researchers has been made even worse by delays in announcements of government funding – delays that appear to be caused by government using announcements for political advantage.

Women more likely to survive stroke but have poorer recovery than men, study shows

ScienceDaily, 14 November 2019: Women are more likely to survive a stroke but have worse disability and poorer quality of life afterwards compared to men, according to new research.

Is there a link between muscle mass and cardiovascular risk?

MedicalNewsToday, 13 November 2019: A new study has found a link between lower muscle mass and a higher risk of cardiovascular events — at least in males aged 45 and over. This association, the research indicates, is valid even for males with no history of heart disease.

Territorians the first to help shape a national obesity strategy

Katherine Times, 12 November 2019: Almost 70% of Australian adults are overweight or obese. It is projected that more than 18 million Australians – two thirds of the population – will be overweight or obese by 2030. COAG Health Council is developing a national health strategy with Territorians the first to weigh in.

Customer confusion prompts calls for health star rating expansion

ABC News, 12 November 2019: Australian customers are confused by an inconsistent Health Star Rating System, according the nation’s largest consumer advocacy group, which has accused food manufacturers of “gaming” the scheme by picking and choosing which products to put stars on.

In remote Indigenous communities housing can support or undermine health

croakey, 11 November 2019: Earlier this year residents of Santa Teresa, a remote Indigenous community near Alice Springs, were awarded compensation, after bringing an action against the NT government for the poor state of their housing.

Our water supply is out of sight, out of mind. And that’s a problem

ABC News, 11 November 2019: Although Australia is a land often devastated by drought, if you live in the city, it’s very unlikely that you’ll turn on the tap and find no water comes out. And given about 70% of Australians live in major cities, it’s easy to forget just how good most of us have it. It’s important to note that not all Australians have access to safe drinking water.

Strength training as good as aerobic exercise for weight management

Sydney Morning Herald, 12 November 2019: A University of Queensland study of the exercise habits of 1.7 million adults published in the journal Obesity, found people who did aerobic training or weights alone reduced their obesity risk by about one third.

Heart disease and cancer risk may be linked

ScienceDaily, 11 November 2019: Having a heart attack may increase the risk of developing cancer. A high 10-year atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk score tripled the risk of developing cancer.


4–11 November 2019

A compound in avocados may reduce type 2 diabetes

MedicalNewsToday, 10 November 2019: A fat molecule found only in avocados shows signs of strengthening insulin sensitivity, according to research in mice.

The five: exercises to help avoid an early death

The Guardian, 10 November 2019: Easy-to-access activities that help reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.

South Australia’s first remote dialysis clinic changing lives for people in isolated communities

ABC News, 9 November 2019: South Australia’s first remote dialysis clinic in the APY lands after years of campaigning by the community means patients that previously had to travel hundreds of kilometres for treatment are back home with their families after months of living off-country.

$90 million boost for Indigenous health

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, 9 November 2019: The federal government is investing an additional $90 million over three years under the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme (IAHP) to further support the delivery of culturally appropriate, comprehensive primary health care.

Study says over-60s should exercise more

7News.com.au, 8 November 2019: Older people should up their exercise levels once they hit 60 to help cut their risk of heart attack and stroke, new research suggests.

Trouble sleeping? Insomnia symptoms linked to increased risk of stroke, heart attack

ScienceDaily, 6 November 2019: People who have trouble sleeping may be more likely to have a stroke, heart attack or other cardiovascular diseases, according to a new study.

Climate crisis: 11,000 scientists warn of ‘untold suffering’

The Guardian, 6 November 2019: A statement issued by dozens of scientists and endorsed by a further 11,000 from 153 nations sets out the ‘vital’ signs as indicators of the magnitude of the current climate emergency, stating that most countries’ climate plans are ‘totally inadequate’.

Smoking may increase risk of mental health problems – study

The Guardian, 6 November 2019: Researchers find link between tobacco cigarettes and depression and schizophrenia.

Poorest hit hardest by cuts to public health spending – research

The Guardian, 5 November 2019: Most deprived parts of England have lost six times as much funding as prosperous areas. England’s poorest communities have borne the brunt of almost £900M of cuts to public health spending, despite them having higher rates of disease, research shows.

Running 50 minutes a week is enough to lower death risk says new research

Sydney Morning Herald, 5 November 2019: According to a new study from Victoria University any amount of regular running, even as little as 50 minutes a week, can dramatically reduce the risk of death.

The most food insecure countries in the world, ranked

UN Dispatch, 5 November 2019: With just 10 more years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, 43 countries are still facing “serious” levels of hunger, and five have hit “alarming” or “extremely alarming” level, according to the latest annual Global Hunger Index.

Urgently needed: health equity responders to Productivity Commission on mental health

Croakey, 4 November 2019: The Productivity Commission’s draft report on mental health is 1,238 pages and wide-ranging – making recommendations beyond the health system, including housing, policing, workplaces, prisons, workers compensation and schools, but has it addressed how sectors beyond health can contribute to improved population mental health?


28 October–4 November 2019

Why the growing number of health apps might not be a good thing

Sydney Morning Herald, 3 November 2019: The options when it comes to health apps are seemingly endless, but experts have warned they can be ineffective and inaccurate, and users are also risking the privacy of their personal data.

Heart disease risk starts young – improving teenager health is essential

The Conversation, 2 November 2019: Heart disease causes an estimated 31 per cent of all deaths worldwide each year. While the condition is often associated with older adults, rising childhood inactivity and poor fitness levels mean that the risk factors associated with heart disease are more common among teenagers.

Regional hospitals compared with third world as doctors put pressure on NSW Government to call for judicial enquiry

ABC News, 1 November 2019: Five doctors wrote to NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard asking him to set up an inquiry with the powers of a Royal Commission to look at postcode disadvantages when it comes to healthcare, saying regional people deserve the same care as people in capital cities.

Measles more dangerous than doctors realised, destroying the immune system’s memory

ABC News, 1 November 2019: Getting measles is even more dangerous than doctors had realised, because it destroys immunity that the victim has acquired to other diseases, according to two new studies published by British and American researchers.

Economists prescribe a mental health fix, but will politicians ever deliver it?

Sydney Morning Herald, 1 November 2019: While we lead the world in community awareness of mental health issues, our efforts to deliver a coherent set of health, education, employment, housing and social services for the affected has not been achieved.

Exposure to chemical in plastic linked to type 2 diabetes, study finds

Sydney Morning Herald, 31 October 2019: New research from the Barker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne now suggest exposure to BPA – Bisphenol A is the controversial chemical used to make certain plastics, including those in some disposable water bottles and plastic takeaway containers – increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Three in four people with a mental illness develop symptoms before age 25 – we need a stronger focus on prevention

The Conversation, 31 October 2019: The Productivity Commission which the government tasked with looking at the impact of mental health on economic participation and productivity draft report reveals 3.9 million of us are living with mental illness, and it’s costing the country an estimated $500 million per day.

Facebook vows strict privacy safeguards as it rolls out preventive health tool

Scientific American, 29 October 2019: Facebook took a step into preventive medicine, rolling out a new tool to encourage users to get flu shots as well as appropriate cancer screenings and heart health tests. But the success of the new product may depend on whether the social media giant can regain consumers’ trust.

How big alcohol is trying to fool us into thinking drinking is safer than it really is

The Conversation, 29 October 2019: Australia’s guidelines on alcohol consumption are undergoing review by the National Health and Medical Research Council, with new draft guidelines expected to be released in November 2019.

Project to document climate change loss and grief in the Pacific Islands

University of Queensland News, 29 October 2019: The way Pacific Island communities on the frontline of climate change are experiencing and working through loss and grief is being documented in a project that could become a ‘wake-up call’ for the rest of the world.


21-28 October 2019

Politicians talk about social determinants of health and prevention at Rural Medicine Australia Conference

croakey, 28 October 2019: Political leaders called for a greater focus on tackling the social determinants of health in and increased in investment in preventing illness and suffering in rural and regional health.

Women and men at risk of different obesity-related conditions

MedicalNewsToday, 28 October 2019: New evidence from a large dataset suggests that obesity increases health risks for everyone and women and men are predisposed to different obesity related-conditions.

Australians split on the level of foreign students: ANUpoll

The Conversation, 25 October 2019: A new poll revealing Australians are divided over whether the nation’s universities have too many foreign students, shows that people have a great deal more confidence in universities and schools and those who staff them than they have in major companies, the public service, the federal government or the press.

Practising what we preach on the climate crisis, at home and work

Croakey, 25 October 2019: Drought-stricken towns in Australia are awaiting of a billion dollar federal stimulus, as some prepare for an ‘unimaginable’ water crisis from drought worsened by climate change, and the implications for health.

Northern Territory’s high smoking rate sparks calls to ease vaping laws

ABC News, 24 October 2019: NT Health Department figures show about 50,000 adults in the Territory smoke, calling for new laws to treat e-cigarettes the same as conventional tobacco products.

The myth about smoking the Cancer Council says needs busting

Sydney Morning Herald, 23 October 2019: Young Australians who believe smoking will not harm them as long as they quit by age 30 are underestimating the dangers, the Cancer Council warms as official data shows a spike in lung diseases and other illnesses among ex-smokers.

Smoking costs Australia close to $137 billion

newsGP, 23 October 2019: A new report from the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University, provides the first update on smoking costs in Australia in 15 years, while detailing that tangible and intangible costs associated with smoking now sit at $136.9 billion annually, up from an estimated $31.5 billion in 2004–05.

Should children with type 2 diabetes be offered a gastric op?

BBC News, 23 October 2019: As a side-effect of the rise in childhood obesity, an increasing number of children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes – particularly, in some UK cities, in the Asian community. Will the NHS consider an approach now being tried in the US, and offer these children bariatric surgery?

Obesity in children linked to structural brain differences

New Atlas, 23 October 2019: A new study, led by researchers from the University of Cambridge, has uncovered distinct differences in brain structure in obese children compared to those of normal weight.

Obesity may lead to fat in the lungs

Healthline, 21 October 2019: People with overweight or obesity are more likely to experience asthma or wheezing. A new study finds that fat deposits may appear in the airway walls of the lungs altering the structure of the airways.

Anxiety is often physical, but its symptoms can be surprisingly easy to miss

ABC News, 21 October 2019: Anxiety has been implicated in several chronic illnesses, including respiratory disorders and gastrointestinal conditions. One of its most concerning potential long-term impacts is on the heart.

Tobacco firms accused of using gimmicks to subvert plain packaging

The Guardian, 21 October 2019: Tobacco companies have been accused of undermining plain packaging laws by introducing gimmicks that ensure their cigarettes stand out from rival products but do not breach regulations.


14–21 October 2019

Indigenous Australians’ vaccination rates too low and not improving

UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 17 October 2019: A new UNSW study has found that most adult Indigenous Australians are not receiving free flu and pneumococcal vaccinations.

Physical activity in lessons improves students’ attainment

University of Sydney News and Opinion, 16 October 2019: Students who take part in physical exercises during school lessons do better in tests than peers who stick to sedentary learning, according to a new study.

These 3 factors predict a child’s chance of obesity in adolescence (and no, it’s not just their weight)

The Conversation, 15 October 2019: Three simple factors can predict whether a child is likely to be overweight or obese by the time they reach adolescence: the child’s body mass index (BMI), the mother’s BMI and the mother’s education level, according to new research.

Everyday activities that count as exercise

ABC Life, 15 October 2019: If you never have time to exercise, we have some good news. Running for the bus, walking to get a coffee, and even sex counts.

Anti-smoking officer patrolling smoke-free areas in Hobart

News.com.au, 15 October 2019: One Aussie city is pushing to be completely smoke-free by 2020 and they’ve hired an anti-smoking officer to hand out $338 fines to smokers.

Australia has a hunger problem: 1 in 4 women have experienced food insecurity in the past year

Women’s Agenda, 14 October 2019: Despite Australia being a developed and wealthy nation, hunger and food insecurity are a growing reality. Over the past year, 1 in 5 Australian have been in a situation where they have run out of rood and been unable to buy more.

Changing the terminology to ‘people with obesity’ won’t reduce stigma against fat people

The Conversation, 14 October 2019: The British Psychological Society is calling for changes for how we talk about fatness but will it change or reinforce stigma around obesity and overweight.

Exercise especially important for older people with heart disease

MedicalNewsToday, 14 October 2019: Older adults tend to fall through the cracks when it comes to cardiac rehabilitation programs, but a new study has shown that these individuals have the most to gain.


7–14 October 2019

One in 10 children on the verge of heart attack risk

The New Daily, 13 October 2019: The number of children worldwide living in heart attack territory has gradually risen over the past two decades, hand in hand with the obesity epidemic.

Incidental exercise crucial in busy modern world

Sunday Canberra Times, 13 October 2019: The key to getting people moving when they’re not motivated to set aside time, it seems, is what Physical Activity Foundation chief executive Lucille Bailie calls ‘incidental exercise’.

Food charities report spike in hungry Australians seeking help

Sydney Morning Herald, 13 October 2019: One in five Australians say they ran out of food at least once in the past year and were unable to buy more, according to a new report, with food charities pointing to an alarming 22 per cent spike in people seeing emergency food supplies.

Heart health checks to be free from November 1 under new Medicare changes

Perth Now, 12 October 2019: From November 1, Medicare will raise the rebate for heart health checks to 100 per cent, meaning that more than 1.5 million Australians at risk of heart attack or stroke will have free access to GP-administered heart health checks.

Australia’s obesity epidemic bites in Katherine, which data show is among nation’s heaviest

ABC News, 12 October 2019: The Northern Territory town of Katherine has the second highest rate of obesity in Australia at over 43 per cent and the highest percentage of people who are either overweight or obese.

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services drives strong mental health services forward as top priority

National Indigenous Times, 11 October 2019: A trailblazer in the First Nations health space, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services is leading the way in Aboriginal self-determination in primary health by ensuring the development of safe, comfortable and consistent mental health care.

It’s easy to get us walking more if we have somewhere to walk near our home and work

The Conversation, 11 October 2019: Research shows people walk more if the city’s design provides them with places to walk to near where they live, work or study.

Yass Valley tips the scales with 72 per cent of adults overweight or obese

Yass Tribune, 11 October 2019: Over 70 per cent of adults and more than 21 per cent of children in the Yass Valley are considered overweight or obese based on the body mass index.

Ministers talk stigma and the workplace on World Mental Health Day

The Mandarin, 11 October 2019: Mental health in the workplace is important, believe 90 per cent of people, yet only 50 per cent believe their workplace is mentally healthy.

Obesity rates are rising in Australia, but it’s where you live that matters

ABC News, 11 October 2019: At last count, two out of three of Australians over the age of 18 are overweight or obese, and according to Victoria University’s Australian Health Tracker, rates are hugely dependent on where people live.

Overweight before age 40 increases the cancer risk

ScienceDaily, 11 October 2019: In an international study, led by the University of Bergen, the researchers wanted to find out how adult overweight (BMI over 25) and obesity (BMI over 30) increase the risk of different types of cancer.

Type 2 diabetes: Weight regain reduces cardiovascular benefits

MedicalNewsToday, 11 October 2019: Recent studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes who lose weight lower their risk of cardiovascular problems. But what happens if they regain the weight?

We are in the midst of a mental health crisis

The Guardian, 8 October 2019: Physical exercise can help, but we need to understand what it is that makes so many of us ill.

Push-ups? Here’s what can really help you live to a ripe old age

Australian Financial Review, 8 October 2019: A study published in February found that men who can hammer our 40 push-ups in one session had a lower risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.

In remote communities, where more health workers are needed, chronic disease is rising

ABC News, 7 October 2019: Aboriginal women are three times less likely to go to a clinic for their first antenatal visit to detect diseases. Medical professionals say Indigenous healthcare workers are key to helping pregnant women attend clinics for their scans.

Taking up running after 50? It is never too late to master it

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 October 2019: Men and women who start running competitively when they are in their 50s can be as swift, lean and well-muscled within a decade as competitive older runners who have trained lifelong, according to a new study.

Mental health dominates total permanent disability claims

NewsGP, 7 October 2019: Advocates have long been concerned about the health insurance industry potentially discriminating against people with psychological problems, despite the fact mental health concerns are on the rise within the Australian population.

Hypertension in pregnancy may portend cardiovascular ills in mothers

The New York Times, 7 October 2019: High blood pressure during pregnancy increases a mother’s risk for future cardiovascular disease and death, a new study has found.


30 November–7 October 2019

‘The conversation has 100 per cent changed’: Mental health in schools

Sydney Morning Herald, 6 October 2019: A recent report on the mental health of Australian children and adolescents said schools “play a major role in supporting young people with emotional and behavioural problems and are often where symptoms of mental disorders are first identified”.

Even naturally sweet drinks may increase diabetes risk

Medical News Today, 4 October 2019: Research has shown that drinking soft drinks with added sugar can increase a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by affecting subtle metabolic mechanisms.

250 million children worldwide forecast to be obese by 2030

The Guardian, 3 October 2019: Experts say obesity rates soaring as governments fail to tackle junk food adverts

Codeine misuse in Australia reduced by prescription-only changes

University of Sydney News & Opinion, 3 October 2019: Codeine rescheduling successfully reduces use and harm study.

What is overdiagnosed cancer? And why does it matter?

Croakey, 2 October 2019: One of the four areas of focus for development of the new National Preventive Health Strategy is “current and emerging opportunities in cancer and chronic disease population screening”, and Health Minister Greg Hunt has sought advice on whether a lung cancer screening program should be introduced.

Next-level health campaign: warnings on individual cigarettes to help smokers quit

The Guardian, 2 October 2019: Research suggests strategies such as a ‘minutes of life lost’ counter on cigarettes, would be more effective than packet warnings.

10% weight loss could send type 2 diabetes into remission

Medical News Today, 1 October 2019: A new study has found that if people achieve moderate weight loss within the first few years of type 2 diabetes diagnosis, they could actually send the condition into remission.

‘Gamifying’ physical exercise

ABC Radio National, The Health Report, 30 September 2019: Exploring physical activity research that used an app designed to increase step counts physical activity.

Almost half of young adults now overweight or obese, new ABS data shows

The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 September 2019: New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, shows almost half of young adults are overweight or obese.

‘I used to eat for convenience’: how young diabetics reversed their diagnosis

The Guardian, 30 September 2019: It’s a disease affecting millions of people in the UK – and sufferers are increasingly in their 20s or even younger. But it is possible to bring it into remission.

Smoking experts are scared a vaping ban will increase cigarette sales

BuzzFeed, 26 September 2019: Vaping bans are happening left and right, but some experts worry they’ll drive ex-smokers right back to cigarettes.

Depression: it’s a word we use a lot, but what exactly is it?

The Conversation, 25 September 2019:  Understanding of depression has advanced significantly since the first diagnostic criteria were introduced in the 1980s, but we still lack clear consensus on how this mental disorder should be explained.

Politicians who become lobbyists can be bad for Australians’ health

The Conversation, 25 September 2019: The political ‘revolving door’ between government and the alcohol, food and gambling industries potentially undermines good public health policy by creating an imbalance between the influence of industry and that of public health advocacy.

Obesity ‘not a choice’ says new report

News.com.au, 24 September 2019: A new report from the British Psychological Society shows that people become overweight or obese as a result of a complex combination of factors.

Fitness and community helping mothers of Indigenous children to bridge cultural gap

ABCNews online, 22 September 2019: Mothers of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children have formed their own culturally safe space in regional South Australia to support each other’s wellbeing.

National Preventive Health Strategy needs community partnerships

Croakey, 21 September 2019: Last week, Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, announced an Expert Steering Committee, both the Prevention Centre and the Sax Institute are representatives on the Committee, to oversee the development of a 10 year National Preventive Health Strategy.

Mental health still the number one reason people visit their GP, report finds

ABC Online, 19 September 2019: Mental health issues are driving Australians to visit their GP more than any other health concern.

India bans e-cigarettes as global vaping backlash grows

The Guardian, 19 September 2019: India has announced a ban on electronic cigarettes, as a backlash gathers pace worldwide about a technology promoted as less harmful than smoking tobacco.

Vaping can be deadly: as an imaging scientist I fear the impact on people’s lungs

ABCNews online, 16 September 2019: Vaping causes severe illness in otherwise healthy young adults and teenagers. It causes a life-threatening, life-shortening and sometimes deadly lung toxicity and injury — with apparently irreversible damage that cannot be cured.

Play equipment that gets kids moving

UQ News, 17 September 2019: A study by researchers at The University of Queensland found children who have access to fixed play equipment like swings and slides and fewer electronic devices were more likely to meet national physical activity guidelines.

Healthcare’s climate footprint

Croakey, 16 September 2019: The Australian healthcare sector has been urged to take concerted action to reduce its climate footprint following the release of a global report that names it as one of the world’s worst offenders. The report, Health care’s climate footprint: How the health sector contributes to the global climate crisis and opportunities for action, is the first in a series of climate-related research and policy papers that Health Care Without Harm and its partners aim to produce over the next three years.

RUOK? No, say our emergency departments and hospitals

Croakey, 16 September 2019: If you want to get a feel for the state of our health system, a visit to a hospital emergency department is a good place to start. Hospital EDs are the one health service that never closes. As a result, any area of failure within the health system shows up, sooner or later, in hospital EDs.

How a person vapes, not just what a person vapes, could also play a big role in vaping harm

The Conversation, 13 September 2019: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking closely at the different flavoured nicotine juices and other substances users may be vaping in e-cigarettes to determine how the aerosol might be affecting users’ lungs.

Alcohol and older patients: What GPs need to know

newsGP, 13 September 2019: Figures from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey show Australians may need to turn their assumptions about the demographics of problem drinking upside down.

Will a vegetarian diet increase your risk of stroke?

The Conversation, 11 September 2019: A UK study finding vegetarianism is associated with a higher risk of stroke than a meat-eating diet has made headlines around the world.

Vegan and vegetarian meat substitutes could pose health risks, researchers warn

ABC Online, 11 September 2019: The amount of pork-free bacon, tofu-based sausages and other so-called “fake meats” on Australian supermarket shelves is booming, but new research has found eating these foods could pose significant health risks.

Newstart recipients six times more likely to suffer poor health, researchers find

The Guardian, 9 September 2019: Monash University study finds those on welfare report ‘stark’ differences in health to those in paid work.

Vaping debate rages in Australia as critics accuse government of smokescreen

The Guardian, 8 September 2019: The e-cigarettes debate ranges from abstinence to pragmatism: ban it or deal with a device that’s just not going away.

Strengthen muscles as well as heart to stay fit and healthy, say top doctors

BBC News, 7 September 2019: Physical activity protects against obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and depression the advice says, as well as reduce falls in old age.

Even a few minutes’ exercise is good for you, new guidelines state

The Guardian, 7 September 2019: Activities such as sprinting upstairs are positive for health, with physical activity under-appreciated asset in clinical arsenal, says UK chief medical officer.

You may have to do more than eat well to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes

SBS, 5 September 2019: It’s time to separate myth from fact and talk home truths about the practical things you can do to lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Daily exercise can boost children’s exam results – new research

The Conversation UK, 5 September 2019: A recent review of primary school children in Stoke-on-Trent shows that children who are more active perform better in key results in ready, writing and mathematics than less active children.

The health benefits of doing more vigorous exercise

ABC Life, 4 September 2019: The news that we don’t have to do vigorous exercise to feel the benefits has been a significant selling point.

Soft drinks, including sugar-free, lined to increase risk of early death

The Guardian, 4 September 2019: Drink more water, say experts as they argue study proves need for curbs on consumption.

Stronger focus on nutrition within health services could save 3.7 million lives by 2025

World Health Organization, 4 September 2019: Health services must integrate a stronger focus on ensuring optimum nutrition at each stage of a person’s life, according to a new report released by WHO.

Australian cigarette prices soar to record highs

2GB, 3 September 2019: The price of cigarettes has increased with a 12.5 per cent hike in the tobacco excise making Australian cigarettes one of the most expensive in the world. Interview with Emeritus Professor Simon Chapman.

Simple blood test could help millions of Australians lose weight

News.com.au, 3 September 2019: Standard fitness and nutrition advice doesn’t work for everyone because it’s based on averages – genes, microbiomes, environments and lifestyles differ widely, and so should diet and exercise habits, according to a new study.

Physicians often fail to discuss healthy lifestyle changes with cancer survivors, according to a new study

Futurity, 3 September 2019: Cancer survivors face increased risks of cardiovascular disease and other conditions, and guidelines advise physicians – including oncologists – to encourage survivors to adopt healthy lifestyles to help protect their long-term health.

Unhealthy lifestyle raises heart disease risk more than genetics

NewsMedicalNet, 3 September 2019: A new study has found that an unhealthy lifestyle increases a person’s risk of heart disease significantly more than a person’s genetic make-up. The research showed that physical inactivity, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol all played more of a role in young patients with heart disease than genetics.

Emory cardiologist introduces World Heart Federation roadmap on cardiovascular prevention with diabetes

EurekAlert!, 3 September 2019: Cardiologist introduced the World Heart Federation’s new roadmap aimed at reducing the global burden of cardiovascular disease in people living with diabetes at the joint European Society of Cardiology Congress and World Congress of Cardiology.

Australian Medical Association declares climate change a health emergency

The Guardian, 3 September 2019: AMA points to ‘clear scientific evidence indicating severe impacts for our patients and communities’.

Need for speed: Aussies blow a third of food budget on fast food

Inside FMCG, 2 September 2019: Australians consumers are spending 32 per cent of their weekly food budget on quick and easy options.

Diabetes, obesity: Is gene editing the answer?

Medical News Today, 30 August 2019: Researchers used a modified CRISPR gene editing technique to target the fat cells of obese, diabetic mice. After 6 weeks, the animals had lost weight, and makers of type 2 diabetes had improved.

Nearly half the Australian diet is ‘ultra-processed’ food

Sydney Morning Herald, 29 August 2019: Close to half of what Australians eat is ‘ultra-processed’ and it is leading to diets which are high in sugar, fat and salt.

Health sector urged to engage with calls for regulatory crackdown on powerful digital platforms

Croakey, 29 August 2019: The immense power of Facebook and Google is creating wide-ranging but poorly understood public health challenges – including the marketing of unhealthy commodities such as alcohol, unhealthy food and gambling – as outlined in a recent landmark report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

NT given go-ahead to lift alcohol restrictions on Indigenous communities

ABC News, 29 August 2019: Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner now has the power to allow dry communities who want to, to reintroduce booze, which he says would combat road deaths and crime fuelled by drinking in major townships.

The science behind diet trends like Mono, charcoal detox, Noom and Fast800

ABC News, 28 August 2019: Every year a new batch of diets becomes trendy but what are the new diets and is there any scientific evidence to support them?

Accidental drug overdose deaths up almost 40 per cent in a decade, report finds

ABC News, 27 August 2019: The latest figures released as part of Australia’s 2019 Annual Overdose Report reveal a dramatic spike in the number of overdose deaths involving heroin or illicit stimulants such at methamphetamine in the last five years. But it’s prescription opioids that continue to cause the majority of overdose deaths; they were involved in 53 per cent of all accident drug induced deaths in 2017.

Barely any UK teens meeting exercise and screen time guidelines

The Guardian, 27 August 2019: Less than 10% of British teenagers meet the recommended guidelines for sleep, exercise and screen time, research has revealed.

Yarn for Life – the first national cancer awareness campaign developed for and by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Croakey, 26 August 2019: Research from The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are 1.1 times as likely to be diagnosed with cancer as non-Indigenous Australians and have lower five-year relative survival compared with non-Indigenous Australians.

Our food is killing too many of us

New York Times, 26 August 2019: Improving American nutrition would make the biggest impact on our health care.

Higher alcohol taxes will improve population health and augment UHC funds

Business World, 26 August 2019: Alcohol consumption is associated with more than 10% of noncommunicable disease burden worldwide, including liver disease and cancer, with the World Health Organization recently denounced the idea that moderate alcohol consumption is safe.

Meat and dairy guidelines have changed. What and how much should we now eat?

ABC Health & Wellbeing, 25 August 2019: The Heart Foundation has updated its guidelines of what to eat to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. For the first time, the organisation has put a specific limit on the amount of red meat Australians should consume: no more than three lean means (totalling 350 grams) of unprocessed beef, pork, lamb or veal a week.

Blood pressure, one of the keys to preventive healthcare

Forbes, 25 August 2019: Blood pressure is a universally understood measure and is an essential clinical measure and a key element in the transition toward preventive health systems.

Kurbo is a new diet app for kids but it won’t keep your children healthy

ABC Health & Wellbeing, 24 August 2019: Weight Watchers has released a new dieting app for kids that claims to teach good behaviours, but many in the nutrition field are not convinced. Is this approach really with the science supports?

Diabetes, redefined

The Week 24 August 2019: According to scientists and medical researchers in India, there may be as many as seven subgroups of type 2 diabetes according to which patients can be provided a focused and personalised treatment.

Even in countries with the healthiest packaged foods, obesity is still a problem

Healthline, 23 August 2019: A new study looks at packaged foods and how healthy they are, with the United Kingdom leading the pack, and the United States and Australia taking silver and bronze, respectively.

First death in a spate of vaping sicknesses reported by health officials

New York Times, 23 August 2019: A woman in the United States is the first to die of a mysterious lung illness linked to vaping, as doctors and hospitals across the country report an increasing number of vaping-related respiratory illnesses: 193 cases reported in 23 states.

Meet Margaret the super ager, whose brain is defying the ageing process

ABC Health & Wellbeing, 22 August 2019: After watching her mother die from Alzheimer’s disease, Margaret signed up at 80 for the Australian Imaging, Biomarker & Lifestyle (AIBL) study that is helping researchers better understand the factors that lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

High blood pressure in mid-30s may pose risk to brain health

BBC News, 21 August 2019: A new study shows that there is a ‘window of opportunity’ for interventions for people in their mid-30s with high blood to protect brain health in later life.

Sit less – move more and more often: all physical activity is beneficial for longevity

The BMJ Opinion, 21 August 2019: Prolonged sitting is linked to an increased risk for many chronic diseases and premature death. New research shows that any level of movement decreases this risk.

Prescription Omega-3s can help lower triglyceride levels, heart disease risk

Healthline, 21 August 2019: Experts say lifestyle changes and medications such as statins and omega-3s can lower triglyceride levels.

‘Tsunami’ of obesity and disease coming our way as more people turn to packaged foods

The New Daily, 21 August 2019: A growing number of people are eating packaged foods and the ramifications for human health are disastrous, according to a global survey by The George Institute of Global Health.

New guidelines to improve care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at risk of self-harm and suicide

Croakey, 19 August 2019: New best practice guidelines developed by The Menzies School of Health Research recommend that services and practitioners move beyond narrowly clinical focus and take a strengths-based approach to engaging with the social and emotional wellbeing of patients.

More troubling signs that ultra-processed foods can hurt your health

The Washington Post, 19 August 2019: Recent research links diets that include ‘ultra-processed’ foods – soft drinks, instant soups, chicken nuggets – to an increased risk of obesity, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome and even cancer.

Toddlers spending too much time in front of screens

The Australian 19 August 2019: Australian children are getting more screen time than is recommended for their health and wellbeing, increasing the risk of poorer developmental outcomes.

Half the town has a chronic disease, yet there’s hope

ABC News 18 August 2019: The Alyawarr people in Central Australia have become the unlikely ground zero in the global fight against a crippling medical condition with wicked genetic links.

The secret to healthy ageing: Diet, exercise, and a crash course in cell biology

ABC Health & Wellbeing 17 August 2019: Ageing well doesn’t have to involve pills or expensive gimmicks. An evidence-based way to add years to your life is to understand how the cells in your body work.

Anti-smoking crusaders criticise Federal Government’s push to cut smoking rate

ABC News 17 August 2019: Widespread criticism of the health minister’s vow to spend $20 million cutting Australia’s smoking rate to under 10 per cent by 2025, with claims that the same promise was made a decade ago

Smoking question unlikely to be included in 2021 census

newsGP 16 August 2019: Tobacco-control researcher led a submission to include a question in the Australian census about smoking habits

Supermarkets put junk food on special twice as often as health food, and that’s a problem

The Conversation 16 August 2019: Australians buy two-thirds of their food and drink at the supermarket. In areas where unhealthy diets are one of the leading contributors to poor health in Australia, the way supermarkets apply discounts needs to change.

Flavonoid-rich diet protects against cancer and heart disease, study finds

ScienceDaily 13 August 2019: Consuming flavonoid-rich foods such as apples and tea protects against cancer and heart disease, particularly for smokers and heavy drinkers.

Obesity: Rethinking what it means to be fat … and skinny

Monash Lens 12 August 2019: Interview with physiologist, Professor Michael Cowley, about his work in obesity research.

‘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

news.com.au, 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.