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
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
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.
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.
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.