Why do so many fear the bicycle?

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017 | Kate Sloane | 4 Comments

Prof Alistair Woodward, Auckland University

“It is too dangerous.” This is the reason given most commonly for not riding a bike on the road in New Zealand. In this blog, I summarise a paper we have just published quantifying the risk of cycling injury. We found it to be low compared to other activites that New Zealanders commonly engage in. For example, riding a bike to a rugby game is roughly 500 times safer than playing the game. I conclude by examining why cycling is so marginalised (the bike is shunted, literally, to the side of the road), and how this might be changed.

Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

Continue reading

The marked decline of sudden mass fatality events in NZ (1900 to 2015)

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017 | Kate Sloane | 1 Comment

Professor Nick Wilson and Associate Professor George Thomson

Our recently published study on sudden mass fatality events in NZ (10+ deaths per event) found that the occurrence and mortality burden of these events has declined over time. In this blog we consider possible reasons for this trend and make suggestions for improving the knowledge base around these events.

Wahine sinking in 1968, Source: Civil Defence website photo library

Continue reading

Analysis of a new NZ Treasury Report on soft drink tax

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 | Kate Sloane | No Comments

Professors Tony Blakely, Nick Wilson, Boyd Swinburn and Cliona Ni Mhurchu

The Government has an action plan to tackle childhood obesity, but it lacks a tax on sugary drinks – a strategy for which there is good evidence.  A new Treasury Report on soft drink tax price elasticities has just emerged. It has the look of a strategically published document that if and when – during election year – certain politicians need to defend non-action on taxing sugary drinks, they can point to this Report and obfuscate.  Indeed, this New Zealand Treasury Report has already been used for this purpose in Australia. We critique this Report in this blog, with a view to preventing its misrepresentation and to encourage a more informed discussion on taxing sugary drinks.

Continue reading

Front-of-pack nutrition labels improve understanding but don’t improve healthy food choices; Starlight Trial just published

Friday, February 3rd, 2017 | Kate Sloane | 1 Comment

Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Cliona Ni Mhurchu

Health Star Rating and Traffic Light nutrition labels have a minor impact on New Zealand consumer healthy food choices, according to a randomised trial just published from our HRC-funded DIET Programme based at the University of Auckland. This is important evidence for policy. We had expected that these simple, visual front of package labels would have more effect on healthy food purchasing choices, but the contrary findings are why randomised trials are important. In this blog we discuss our findings, strengths and weaknesses of the study, and implications of the results.

Continue reading

Improving New Zealand’s preparations for the next pandemic

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 | Kate Sloane | 1 Comment

Dr Julia Scott, Prof Nick Wilson, Prof Michael Baker

In a globalised world an infectious disease outbreak anywhere is a potential threat to New Zealand (NZ). Recent such threats have included severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), pandemic influenza (2009), Ebola and Zika. In the context of an upcoming University of Otago, Wellington Public Health Summer School symposium on the topic of emerging infectious diseases, this blog discusses how NZ could ensure it is better prepared in this public health domain.

Continue reading

 
 
 

Any views or opinion represented in this site belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the University of Otago. Any view or opinion represented in the comments are personal and are those of the respective commentator/contributor to this site.