News and events

Must-read articles about prevention

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

Perth Now, 12 October 2019: From 1 November, 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.

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.

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’.

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.

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.

‘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, 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, 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, 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.