News and events

Must-read articles about prevention

Food retail technologies can improve our health, not just the supermarket bottom line

The Conversation, 14 June 2018: New technologies do not discriminate between the promotion of a healthy or unhealthy diet. It’s how we apply them that matters.

‘Unexpected finding’: Obese women more likely to have severe endometriosis

The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 June 2018: A new study involving more than 500 Australian women has found women with a healthy body mass index (BMI) are more likely to have endometriosis, as suspected, but obese women are more likely to have severe forms of it.

Why predicting suicide is a difficult and complex challenge

The Conversation, 9 June 2018: Humans can only predict who is going to die by suicide slightly more accurately than random guessing. But, as several research groups have demonstrated in recent years, machine learning may be able to predict who is going to attempt or die by suicide with up to 90 percent accuracy.

Dementia prevention starts in middle age: expert

The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 June 2018: The decisions you make in mid-life can impact your chances of getting dementia, as well as your brain health after diagnosis. Cardiovascular health promotes good brain health by maintaining good oxygen and nutrient supply to the brain, says Professor Craig Ritchie from the University of Edinburgh.

Sugar tax likely at ‘some stage’: Coca-Cola Amatil CEO Alison Watkins

The Australian Financial Review, 7 June 2018: The CEO of Coca-Cola Amatil, Alison Watkins, admits that a federal sugar tax is likely and is responding with a radical transformation of its business, including switching to smaller portion sizes, reformulating fizzy drinks to use no sugar, or sugar substitutes, and diversifying into alcohol, coffee and water.

The complexity of citizen experience: ‘system effects’ mapping for intervention design

The Mandarin, 5 June 2018: System Effects is a methodology developed by UNSW Canberra Researcher Dr Luke Craven to explore the ‘user’ or citizen experience of complex phenomena, such as climate resilience, poor health, or job market access.

NSW government to give $150 million to cardiovascular disease research

The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 June 2018: The NSW government has announced it will hand out $150 million over the next 10 years to help researchers tackle Australia’s biggest killer – cardiovascular disease.

Australian Medical Association endorses Uluru Statement on Indigenous constitutional change

ABC, 2 June 2018: The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is vowing to push for Indigenous constitutional change after endorsing the Uluru Statement.

‘You’ve got to huff and puff’: Study finds walking faster means living longer

The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 June 2018: An analysis of more than 50,200 walkers led by Sydney University researchers has found that walking faster may lead to a longer, healthier life. In light of the findings, the researchers have called for walking speed to be emphasised in public health messages, especially because some people lacked the time or ability to walk a lot.

Coca-Cola’s reduced sugar and sugar alternatives are too little, too late

The Conversation, 30 May 2018: Coca-Cola is aiming for a 10 per cent reduction in sugar across their range by 2020. But a single can of reduced sugar Coke still contains almost 40 per cent of your recommended daily intake, plus these drinks remain a “dental disaster”, writes Rosemary Stanton.

Preventing chronic disease among people with mental illness

University of Newcastle, 29 May 2018: Increased support to prevent chronic disease in people with mental illness will be the focus of a $597,507 Medical Research Future Fund investment.

3/100: The fast food company with the worst health score

The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 May 2018: Australia’s most popular fast-food restaurants need to be more transparent about their nutrition policies and should commit to reducing salt, sugar and saturated fat, according to a new report released by  Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre which ranks the retailers based on their public positions on tackling obesity. Study author Associate Professor Gary Sacks said there was a good opportunity for fast food companies to help address the problem by introducing policies that support healthier choices, like water and fruit or salad, the automatic option for children’s meals.

The Future is Research

Health Voices, Journal of the Consumers Health Forum of Australia: Professor Ian Frazer, Chair of Medical Research Future Fund’s independent Australian Medical Research Advisory Board, calls for debate as the board prepares to consult over the next few months on what the next set of priorities for the MRFF should be.

‘Clusters’ of risky habits put high school students at risk

The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 May 2018: Australian teenagers who harbour “risk clusters” of the so-called “big six” unhealthy behaviours (physical inactivity, poor diet, alcohol use, smoking, too much recreational screen time and poor sleep) are at greater risk of mental health problems, new research UNSW’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) suggests.

‘Frustrated’ health sector turns to tobacco-like labelling to issue warning over sweetened drinks

ABC, 25 May 2018: Despite years of warnings about Australia’s obesity rates, public health advocates are frustrated by the lack of action and researchers are having to get creative to draw attention to the problem. The latest idea comes from researchers at Deakin University who have presented research at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna finding graphic labelling, similar to that seen on cigarette cartons, is likely to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks

Graphic warnings on unhealthy foods may help people make better choices, study finds

ABC, 24 May 2018: Graphic health messages similar to those used on cigarette packets could be an effective way of helping people make healthier food choices, a University of Melbourne study has found.

Having babies doesn’t make you fat, according to new research

The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 May 2018: New research from the University of Canberra has de-bunked the common perception that pregnancy is a trigger for long-term weight gain in women.

How obesity causes cancer, and may make screening and treatment harder

The Conversation, 20 March 2018: The question is not whether obesity can cause cancer; it is how we can better prevent or mitigate this important risk factor. Reassuringly, evidence suggests that weight loss may reduce or reverse many of the above processes and their associated risks. While obesity is just one of the drivers of the cancer burden in Australia, it is preventable and doing so would bring other enormous health benefits.

Our obsession with fats and carbs means we’re looking at nutrition all wrong

ABC, 19 May 2018: We have taken a wrong turn in the way that we think about nutrition. We are too obsessed with identifying an individual culprit — a specific nutrient that causes a particular health problem.

Coca-Cola is reducing the sugar in even its full-sugar drinks

The Age, 17 May 2018: The Coca-Cola Company’s local bottler is changing the recipes of some of its biggest-selling soft drinks to make them lower in sugar, amid a consumer backlash against sugar consumption and growing calls for a sugar tax.

Politicians happy to blame public servants — but not so keen on praise

The Mandarin, 17 May 2018: Cognitive biases — such as focusing on negative performance data — can undermine the potential benefits of increased transparency. They might also help explain bureaucrats’ notorious risk aversion.

Tide turns on obesity strategy

BBC, 15 May 2018: It wasn’t long ago when ministers were worried that any intervention to curb what is marketed to British shoppers might upset retailers and provoke accusations of a “nanny state”. But the tide seems to be turning. Customers, who are also voters, seem to be welcoming any help they can get for making healthier choices over their food.

Will posting nutritional information on menus prod diners to make healthier choices?

JAMA Network, 15 May 2018: On May 7, all US chain restaurants with 20 or more locations—and that includes coffee shops, bakeries, and movie theaters that sell food—had to start posting the calorie content of their menu items. But will it work?