Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Cristina Cleghorn, Dr Nhung Nghiem, Prof Tony Blakely
The scientific case for lowering dietary salt intakes became a bit confused in recent years by studies which suggested that both low sodium (salt) intake and high sodium intake were associated with higher risk of death. But new research suggests that low sodium intakes are not associated with a higher risk of death and the results for low sodium intake in these other studies may be largely due to inaccurate measurement of sodium intake. So the scientific community can now more confidently recommend that governments progress interventions to reduce sodium levels in processed foods. This could substantially benefit health, reduce health inequalities and save health sector costs.
Tony Blakely, Andrea Teng, Sheree Gibb, Nhung Nghiem, Barry Milne, Andrew Sporle, Gabrielle Davie, Nevil Pierce, Ruth Cunningham, and on behalf of the Virtual Health Information Network
A key strategic advantage for NZ and research is our national routinely-collected datasets. This can generate new knowledge in academia, service delivery and policy. Conversely, NZ has some key barriers to overcome to make the best use of that data – most importantly, data systems infrastructure and research capacity. In this blog we consider these opportunities and barriers. We believe we are at a moment in time when a major centralized investment is required that will return dividends to NZ citizens and academics through better policy making and new knowledge discovery.
Prof Tony Blakely, Dr Andrea Teng, Prof Nick Wilson
Policy-makers need to know how much of ethnic inequalities in health are due to socioeconomic position and tobacco smoking, but quantifying this is surprisingly difficult. In this Blog, and accompanying video, we summarize new research using NZ’s linked census-mortality data, blended with innovative new ‘counterfactual’ methods to determine causal relationships that can shed light on policy-relevant questions. A half or more of Māori:European/Other inequalities in mortality are due to four socioeconomic factors (education, labour force status, income and deprivation), and this percentage is stable over time for males but increasing for females. Eradicating tobacco will not only improve mortality for all sociodemographic groups, but reduce absolute inequalities in mortality between Māori and European/Other by a quarter. It is hard to think of another intervention that will reduce inequalities by as much.