News and events

Must-read articles about prevention

Children as young as eight feel the pressure for the ‘perfect’ body

Fairfax Media, 15 August 2018: A new Australian study examining the hormones and attitudes of “pre-tweens” has found that children as young as eight are vulnerable to poor body image, particularly those who start their physical development early.

Why Australian prisoners are smoking nicotine-infused tea leaves

The Conversation, 15 August 2018: Following a ban on tobacco smoking in prisons, some Australian prisoners are creating substitute cigarettes from crushed nicotine lozenges mixed with tea leaves.

IndigenousNCDs: a call for States to include Indigenous peoples in non-communicable disease Declaration

Croakey, 15 August 2018: Continuing to view Indigenous peoples simply through the “vulnerability” lens is problematic. Indigenous-specific and Indigenous-led solutions are the only way forward if we want to reduce the devastating impact of NCDs on Indigenous peoples worldwide.

Obesity is a market failure and personal responsibility will not solve it alone

The Conversation, 13 August 2018: Both behavioural economics research and weight-loss trials show that relying solely on Australians to take personal responsibility is doomed to fail, unless governments step in to create environments that promote healthy food and physical activity.

Is it unethical to use fear in public health campaigns?

Simon Chapman blog, 13 August 2018: Some in the community do not like encountering confronting information that challenges their ignorance or complacency, but public health is not a popularity contest where an important criterion for assessing the merits of a campaign is the extent to which it is liked.

Salt not as damaging to health as previously thought, says study

The Guardian, 10 August 2018: Salt may not be as damaging to health as is usually claimed, according to a controversial new study published by Canadian researchers in the Lancet which suggests campaigns to persuade people to cut down may only be worthwhile in countries with very high sodium consumption, such as China

The huge food company with the worst health rating

Fairfax Media, 9 August 2018: A George Institute for Global Health study found only about 4350 of 15,770 eligible products on supermarket shelves in 2017 featured a health star rating.

Stroke, cancer and other chronic diseases more likely for those with poor mental health

The Conversation, 8 August 2018: A new report out today from the Australian Health Policy Collaboration has found the four million Australians living with mental health conditions are at much greater risk of chronic physical disease and much greater risk of early death.

The right plate might nudge kids to eat more veggies

Reuters Health, 7 August 2018: Handing kids plates with pictures of fruits and vegetables may nudge them to serve themselves more of these foods and eat more of them, too, a small experiment suggests.

Will the government’s new ‘Move It’ exercise campaign move us or lose us?

The Conversation, 7 August 2018: The big question is, how will this “marketing initiative” succeed where many others have not?

Food industry is mimicking big tobacco says Choice

The New Daily, 6 August 2018: The powerful food industry has been mimicking tactics used by tobacco companies to stifle Australian regulations and stall reforms to help people be healthier, an inquiry has heard.

How new standards could double hypertension numbers

Australian Journal of Pharmacy, 6 August 2018: If our blood pressure guidelines lowered the cut-off for hypertension to match the new American standard, it would double the proportion of Aussie adults with the condition, according to a perspective published in the MJA today.

Vaping draws strong support – from bots

Medical Xpress, 6 August 2018: Social media accounts run by internet robots may be driving much of the discussion around the health threats posed by e-cigarettes, according to a study led by San Diego State University researchers, who also found most of the automated messages were positive toward vaping.

Standing desks may be key to reducing obesity rates across Australia

Fairfax Media, 5 August 2018: Standing desks, sometimes regarded as a health fad, could play a key role in finding an affordable way to reduce obesity rates across Australia, according to a study by Deakin University.

So now we have a National Sports Plan. But what does it really offer our health?

Croakey, 5 August 2018: Professor Bill Bellew, Professor Adrian Bauman and Dr Lindsey Reece from the Prevention Research Collaboration raise questions about the likely impact the new National Sport Plan will have on health.

COAG Indigenous Health Focus

ABC Radio, 5 August 2018: A new and enduring Council of Australian Government’s Ministerial focus has been put on First Nations health.

Comparing Knowledge, Accessibility, and Use of Evidence-Based Chronic Disease Prevention Processes Across Four Countries

Frontiers in Public Health, 2 August 2018: Evidence-based chronic disease prevention (EBCDP) effectively reduces incidence rates of many chronic diseases, but contextual factors influence the implementation of EBCDP worldwide. This study aims to examine the following contextual factors across four countries, including Australia

Stop worrying about vitamins – you can eat all you need really easily

Fairfax Media, 2 August 2018: “People needn’t worry about vitamins in general,” says Professor Amanda Lee, who chaired the group of experts who wrote Australia’s dietary guidelines and is now a Senior Adviser at The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre.

Personal responsibility not way to fix obesity crisis

Fairfax Media, 1 August 2018: The biggest road block to tackling obesity is the idea that weight management is entirely a matter of personal responsibility.

Alcohol lobby groups accused of spreading lies to thwart new strategy

Fairfax Media, 1 August 2018: The Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) has analysed 17 alcohol industry submissions to the federal government’s National Alcohol Strategy 2018-2026 consultation and found they made four “problematic” claims, including that “Australia was already making good progress [and] no change was needed” and “moderate consumption had population health benefits”.

Canberrans more regular drinkers than the average Australian: report

Fairfax Media, 1 August 2018: The chief health officer’s biennial report has revealed concerning figures around a rise in self harm for young Canberrans and drinking rates for middle-aged residents.

Health service providers suffer the most data breaches, as overall numbers jump

ABC, 1 August 2018: Australia’s health service providers suffered more data breaches than any other sector between April 1 and June 30, 2018, according to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

Opting out of My Health Records? Here’s what you get with the status quo

The Conversation, 31 July 2018: If you’re opting out of My Health Records, you’re opting in to “business as usual”. So it’s important to know what the current system looks like

Stephen Duckett – Poor and elderly Australians let down by ailing primary health system

The Conversation, 30 July 2018: Although by world standards Australia has an extensive set of primary care services, the Grattan Institute’s new report, Mapping Primary Care, finds too many poorer Australians still can’t afford to go to a GP when they need to, or a dentist when they should.

More Evidence for Gut-Brain Link in Alzheimer’s Disease

Medscape, 30 July 2018: New research provides more evidence that the gut microbiome may play a role in the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease.

Weighing kids at school has more pros than cons but the reasons may surprise you

The Conversation, 25 July 2018: The proposal is different to schemes in the US where BMI report cards are sent to parents. Instead, the data would feed into obesity research and prevention programs.

Sydney on top for liveability, but falling behind on public transport

The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 July 2018: Sydney is the most liveable capital city in Australia, a new report has found, but is falling well short of meeting public transport expectations. The findings were released on Wednesday by RMIT University’s Centre for Urban Research Creating Liveable Cities in Australia report, in which it measures city policies against its implementation.

Beige and brown fat burn calories and could help manage obesity and diabetes

ABC, 24 July 2018: Think about the fat in your body. Heart disease or those couple of extra kilos you’re carrying around are probably the first things to spring to mind. But not all fat is bad for us. It comes in different colours — and how much you have of each might contribute to obesity and weight-related diseases like diabetes.

Big Formula follows Big Tobacco playbook

MJA Insight, 23 July 2018: At the World Health Assembly in May, the United States made deliberate attempts to dilute a resolution on breastfeeding and specifically sought to remove the wording that countries should “protect, promote and support” breastfeeding. The actions of the US have outraged the health sector, reminding us of the risks of corporate interference in public health guidelines, policies and programs.

Pill testing at festivals has hidden benefits that could reduce drug taking

ABC, 23 July 2018: Australia’s first pill testing trial, held at Canberra Groovin’ The Moo this year, saw plenty of critics come out of the woodwork saying testing results in more drug taking and higher rates of drug-related harm. But there is no solid evidence to show that pill testing leads to partygoers taking more drugs and dying. In fact, there are multiple studies and trials indicating pill testing often results in less drug taking.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has ordered his department to stop paying social media influencers

ABC, 21 July 2018: Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has ordered his department to stop paying social media influencers. The Daily Telegraph revealed on Friday the Health Department had spent more than $600,000 in taxpayer funds on the #girlsmakeyourmove social media campaign over the past 18 months.

Children to be weighed and measured at school every two years in proposal to tackle obesity

ABC, 21 July 2018: Children’s height and weight would be measured every two years unless parents opt out as part of an ambitious proposal to tackle Australia’s obesity epidemic. The proposal, made by the Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE) at Deakin University to a Senate committee examining the issue, argues the data could map childhood obesity around Australia to better target where the problem is at its worse.

When nudge comes to shove: making e-health opt-out was always a risky venture

The Mandarin, 19 July 2018: The sudden rush to opt out of e-health records this week amid a groundswell of delayed-action privacy concerns demonstrates that governments have to be very careful about how and when they use the most powerful nudge of all – default enrolment.

A new blood test could detect early stage melanoma in more than 80% of patients

The Conversation, 18 July 2018: Melanoma kills more than 1,700 Australians every year, which is more than the national road toll. But the good news is it’s treatable if caught early enough. And a new blood test might be able to help with faster and easier diagnosis.

Separating health from hype for a diet that’s kind on your heart

ABC, 24 July 2018: A new paper out aims to answer the common nutrition questions people ask their heart health specialists. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology study aims to act as a guide for cardiologists who, despite having patients look to them as a source of information on heart-healthy diets, don’t get a lot of nutrition training in their formal studies.

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.