The Draft NZ Health Strategy: Will it enable New Zealanders to “live well, stay well and get well”?

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015 | Kate Sloane | 2 Comments

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Prof Nick Wilson, Prof Richard Edwards, Prof Tony Blakely

The new draft NZ Health Strategy is strong on strengthening the health care system and has some strong population health aspects, at least rhetorically. It includes phrases like a system moving “from treatment to prevention”. But how does it fare when considering the science around burden of disease and interventions to address the 10 top risk factors for health loss in NZ? Unfortunately not well at all. There are no population health goals and minimal evidence of concrete action to address the major preventable causes of poor health and premature death. In summary, there seems plenty of scope for upgrading the draft Strategy if it is going to enable New Zealanders to “live well, stay well and get well”.

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Glass half full: Alcohol’s health benefits for cardiovascular disease still controversial, and likely vary by context

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 | Kate Sloane | 4 Comments

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Professor Tony Blakely and Associate Professor Nick Wilson

It is ‘well known’ that moderate amounts of alcohol are beneficial to cardiovascular health.  But actually in research circles this ‘fact’ is hotly contested. In this blog we will overview the currently dominant understanding of a ‘J-shape’ association of alcohol and death rates. Then we look at a recent (and likely seminal) just published study of 400,000 European adults followed up for an average 13 years that reports a seemingly J-shape association – but which might actually be due to bias according to the authors.

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Physical activity or nutrition interventions: which can improve population health the most and save the most health dollars?

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 | Kate Sloane | 1 Comment

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Professor Tony Blakely and Associate Professor Nick Wilson

We gave a presentation to Members of Parliament last week on taxes and subsidies on food, the pros and cons (slides here). In this blogpost we go into some extra detail on how such nutritional interventions compare to physical activity ones – in terms of health gain and potential for cost savings to the health system. Continue reading

Happiness surveys, & can health sector interventions improve well-being?

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013 | Nick Wilson | 2 Comments

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Assoc Prof Nick Wilson & Prof Tony Blakely

According to the just released “World Happiness Report 2013”, New Zealanders are among the happiest people in the world, ranking 13th out of 156 nations examined. Actually only seven countries appear to have significantly higher (happier) rankings than New Zealand (where the confidence intervals for the ranking scores clearly don’t overlap). These include the four Scandinavian countries, two European countries (Netherlands and Switzerland) and Canada. The source of the New Zealand data is the two-yearly New Zealand General Social Survey (NZGSS), run by Statistics New Zealand. Continue reading