News and events

Must-read articles about prevention

WA’s fast food industry could be forced to list dietary information on menus

The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 July 2018: Western Australian fast food franchises could be forced to list dietary information on their menus after the state government threw its support behind the proposed initiative on Sunday.

How can we prevent thousands of cancer deaths? Drink less

The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 July 2018: Thousands of cancer deaths would be prevented each year if Australians slashed their weekly alcohol intake by around five standard drinks, a major study examining almost 80 years of health records has revealed.

Would seeing 16 teaspoons of sugar stop you buying that soft drink?

The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 July 2018: Australian shoppers would see a confronting 16 teaspoons of sugar on the label of a 600-millilitre Coca-Cola bottle if the federal government adopted one of the more contentious options in its new sugar-labelling paper.

Never mind the Trump Administration, Australia’s record on breastfeeding doesn’t rate so highly

Croakey, 11 July 2018: While Australian health organisations and experts have been among those condemning the US actions, this article reminds Croakey readers that constant vigilance is required to protect breastfeeding from the influence of corporate forces.

Breastfeeding has been the best public health policy throughout history

The Conversation, 11 July 2018: Breastfeeding has long been the gold standard for infant nutrition. The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and World Health Organization all recommend it.

Smoking warning labels could need a refresh to inform public of new health risk discoveries

ABC, 9 July 2018: When it comes to the health risks associated with smoking, most people know about lung cancer and heart disease. But less than a third of Australians realise it can also cause conditions such as acute leukaemia and rheumatoid arthritis.

The true price of sugar-sweetened disease: political inertia requires renewed, strategic action

Medical Journal of Australia, 9 July 2018: Governments worldwide are drawing on growing evidence to implement effective pricing policies for SSBs as one cornerstone of a comprehensive policy response.

U.S. Opposition to Breast-Feeding Resolution Stuns World Health Officials

The New York Times, 8 July 2018: The U.S., embracing the interests of the $70 billion infant formula industry, opposed a breast-feeding measure that was welcomed by countries around the world.

Lifting smoking age, banning cigarettes in jail on the cards in ACT

Canberra Times, 8 July 2018: Lifting the smoking age and banning cigarettes in prison are two major initiatives highlighted for investigation in a new government drug strategy.

Seven lessons on driving evidence-informed practice

The Mandarin, 6 July 2018: As any good policymaker knows, evidence-informed decision making is all well and good in theory. But reality is somewhat messier.

Study reveals the tactics soft drink companies use to market to young people

ABC, 5 July 2018:  A new study from the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) found sugary drink companies are using Facebook to market their products directly to Australian young people.

Federal government needs to take action against alcohol industry’s poor pregnancy warnings, doctors say, 4 July 2018: Aussie doctors have ripped into the alcohol industry’s approach to pregnancy warnings, saying poor labelling could have lifelong consequences for unborn children.

Chart of the day: How much of the food in a supermarket is healthy?

ABC, 3 July 2018: Only 38 per cent of 40,664 packaged products that are common on Australian shelves have a Health Star Rating of 3.5 or more — a score they say indicates “a basic level of healthfulness”.

‘There are dangers’: GPs issue warning over walk-in pharmacy health checks

The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 July 2018: The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners is urging the public to stay away from walk-in tests at chemist chains such as Priceline, Amcal and TerryWhite are billed as quick, free and simple, and can include a heart health check, diabetes risk assessment, cholesterol test and anaemia screening.

Australia wins landmark World Trade Organisation ruling on tobacco plain packaging laws

ABC, 29 June 2018: Australia has won a clear victory in a major trade dispute over its pioneering tobacco packaging law.

Keeping the same doctor reduces death risk, study finds

The Guardian, 29 June 2018: Seeing the same doctor each time you need medical care might reduce your risk of death, new research from the UK suggests.

The time of his life: reflections from the founder of Australia’s national nudge unit

The Mandarin, 28 June 2018: Taking two years off from his post at Harvard to start up the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government has been a career highlight for Michael Hiscox.

Why rates of mental illness aren’t going down despite higher spending

The Conversation, 28 June 2018: Improving mental health will depend at least in part on fairer distribution, including getting more resources to poorer urban areas.

HealthEngine may be in breach of privacy law in sharing patient data

The Conversation, 27 June 2018: The sharing of patients’ private information with a firm of solicitors specialising in personal injury claims appears to breach several Australian Privacy Principles.

High levels of risk of heart disease and stroke for Indigenous Australians

ABC, 27 July 2018: Information on cardiovascular risk for Indigenous people under 35 and in old age will be important to help identify risks earlier, and prevent disease from developing – interview with Emily Banks.

‘A scam’: Obesity experts slam soft drink industry’s sugar cut pledge

The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 June 2018: Health experts have overwhelmingly given the soft drink industry’s plan to slash sugar by 20 per cent the thumbs down, with key figures labelling it a “scam”, “window dressing” and “smoke and mirrors”.

Getting a heart check early can prevent heart attack and stroke in Indigenous Australians

The Conversation, 25 June 2018: New findings from a study published today in the Medical Journal of Australia show vast room for improvement in heart health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Restricting access to opioids could drive pain sufferers to buy harder drugs on the black market, experts warn

ABC, 24 June 2018: Australia has been warned that moves to restrict access to addictive opioid painkillers could drive pain sufferers to illegal markets or even stronger substances, if people are not able to access affordable, effective options to manage their pain.

The Magic Pill: How do the health claims in Pete Evans’ paleo diet doco stack up?

ABC, 22 June 2018: A documentary by celebrity chef Pete Evans — which depicts a high-fat, low-carb diet as a treatment for autism, asthma and even cancer — is back in the spotlight this month after Netflix was urged to pull the film from its streaming service. What has public health experts so concerned?

Aboriginal children healthier than ever but generations behind peers

The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 June 2018: Aboriginal children born today have a better start in life than ever before, the latest Chief Health Officer’s report shows. But health services alone will not be enough to bridge the yawning gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children.

Weight, poor diet, physical inactivity to blame for Australians getting sicker

ABC, 20 June 2018: Australians are living longer but half of us have a chronic health condition which impacts our quality of life. That is one of the key findings of the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Australia’s (AIHW) Health 2018 report.

Big data is here, let’s handle it responsibly

The Mandarin, 19 June 2018: A balance is possible between the safe and effective use of nationalised data to inform government decisions — without compromising sensitive information

Creating research value needs more than just science – arts, humanities, social sciences can help

The Conversation, 19 June 2018: Mobilising value from science and technology needs help from thinkers, designers, makers, policymakers and enablers – and this expertise often sits in the humanities, arts and social sciences domain.

‘Being evidence-based is really, really hard’: shifting evaluation culture

The Mandarin, 15 June 2018: Too often evaluation is an afterthought and the report sits in a drawer. Two experts discuss how to shift attitudes to make evidence-based policymaking meaningful.

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.

Huge Mediterranean Diet Study Was Flawed. But Was It Wrong?

The New York Times, 13 June 2018: A highly publicized trial found that the Mediterranean diet protects against heart disease. Now the original work has been retracted and re-analyzed.

‘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.