Millions of Australian adults are unvaccinated and it’s increasing disease risk for all of us

Flu vaccination uptake rates are low in adults, including among those who work in health, aged care and childcare. from www.shutterstock.com C Raina MacIntyre, UNSW; Holly Seale, UNSW, and Rob Menzies, UNSW Public attention has recently focused on improving vaccination rates in Australian infants and children. But actually the largest unvaccinated group of people recommended for immunisation are adults. Of 4.1 million unvaccinated Australians, 92% (3.8 million) are adults, and only a small fraction are children. Improving adult vaccination rates will reduce their risk of illness and death, and lower transmission of infection in the community. Fewer adults than children are vaccinated The government provides free adult vaccines for influenza (flu), pneumococcal pneumonia and shingles for people over the aged of 65 years, and selected vaccines for those with underlying medical conditions, Indigenous people older than 15 years and pregnant women. However, our latest research…
Read more
  • 0

How junk food shapes the developing teenage brain

The teenage brain has a voracious drive for reward, diminished behavioural control and a susceptibility to be shaped by experience. This often manifests as a reduced ability to resist high-calorie junk foods. (Shutterstock) Amy Reichelt, Western University Obesity is increasing worldwide, especially among children and teenagers. More than 150 million children in the world are obese in 2019. These children have increased risk of heart disease, cancers and Type 2 diabetes. Teenagers with obesity are likely to remain obese as adults. If these trends continue, 70 per cent of adults aged 40 years could be either overweight or obese by 2040. I am a neuroscientist and my research investigates how diet changes the brain. I want to understand how unhealthy diets impact the developing brain, and also why young people today are so prone to developing obesity. Adolescents are the greatest consumers of calorie-rich “junk” foods. During puberty, many children have an insatiable appetite…
Read more
  • 0

Shows for little people: why seeing live music early matters

Artists such as The Wiggles help kids learn how to listen to live music. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy Liz Giuffre, Macquarie University The mass media invented the teenager during the 1950s and 60s – and thus emerged a whole new audience for popular culture. What we’re seeing now is the recognition of children as an ever more important audience. Musicians and performers, including many on the program at the Sydney Festival, are tailoring their shows to meet the needs of their young fans. Of course adolescence was nothing new back in the 1950s – but teenagers became an identifiable group who were targeted by people selling music, advertising and live performance in a way that they never had been during this time. The follow-on effect has been quite remarkable, with 50s and 60s teenagers – AKA babyboomers – continuing their teenage patterns of music and media consumption. As Andy Bennett and his colleagues have noted of the emerging era of Aging and Popular Music Studies, “in the…
Read more
  • 0

4 ways to get your kids off the couch these summer holidays

Come school holidays, your school-aged kids are more likely to spend longer on their screens than they do in term time. Here’s how to get them outside and active, with a bit of planning. from www.shutterstock.com Tim Olds, University of South Australia; Amanda Watson, University of South Australia, and Carol Maher, University of South Australia The sun’s shining and there’s a trampoline in the backyard. Yet your kids want to spend their summer holidays lying on the couch playing computer games all day. So what can you do to help your school-aged kids stay active and healthy this summer?   Read more: More than one in four Aussie kids are overweight or obese: we're failing them, and we need a plan Kids put on weight over the holidays In 2016, a US study found that all the increase in fatness of school-aged children occurred over the summer holidays. During term time, kids get leaner and leaner, only to put it all back on, and then some, during the holidays. The…
Read more
  • 0

Is The Bachelor anti-feminist, or is conventional heterosexual romance the real problem?

Matty J, the current Bachelor in the Australian version of the franchise, prepares to reward one of his suitors with a rose. Network 10/Warner Bros. International Television Production Beatrice Alba, Monash University The Bachelor attracts widespread criticism for being old-fashioned, anti-feminist, and humiliating to women. The show involves a group of women competing for the attention of “the bachelor” — the single male star. He offers a rose to those who win his affections, enabling them to stay in the competition. Is this courtship ritual old-fashioned and outdated? Or does it accurately reflect modern, mainstream norms around heterosexual romance? Will you accept this rose? Everyday norms surrounding heterosexual dating and relationships dictate clear gender roles, with distinct expectations for men and women. On the dating scene, men are generally expected to approach women, and to invite women on a date. When a man “takes” a woman out to dinner he will typically off…
Read more
  • 0

New studies show discrimination widely reported by women, people of color and LGBTQ adults

U.S. public opinion is divided over who faces discrimination. fizkes/Shutterstock.com Mary G. Findling, Harvard University; John M. Benson, Harvard University, and Robert J. Blendon, Harvard University In recent years, U.S. public opinion has been divided about the existence and seriousness of racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination. Amid growing racial divides in civil and political views, our research team at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in partnership with NPR and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, asked 3,453 adults about their experiences of discrimination. We surveyed adults who identified as members of six groups often underrepresented in public opinion research: blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, women and LGBTQ adults. Our studies, published in December, show that people from these groups report high levels of discrimination from both institutions and other people. Widespread reported discrimination The articles were ba…
Read more
  • 0

Being transgender is not a mental illness, and the WHO should acknowledge this

The pathology lies in society discriminating against transgender people, not in transgender people themselves. Ted Eytan/Flickr, CC BY Damien Riggs, Flinders University The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced it may no longer classify being transgender as a disorder in the revised version of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), due for release in 2018. The ICD is a diagnostic tool used across much of the world to diagnose health issues, including mental illness. A study published this week in the Lancet medical journal has lent support to this move. Echoing previous research, the study found poor mental health among transgender people is primarily the product of social stigma and violence. This counters the view that being transgender is itself pathological. History of diagnostic criteria Historically, it has been assumed that the sex we are assigned at birth determines our gender. Primarily on the basis of visual inspection of genitalia, people are…
Read more
  • 0

Diabetes and pregnancy can be a tricky (but achievable) mix: 6 things to think about if you want a baby and 1 if you don’t

A successful pregnancy if you have diabetes comes down to planning and making sure you have the right health-care team behind you. from www.shutterstock.com Freya MacMillan, Western Sydney University; David Simmons, Western Sydney University, and Tinashe Dune, Western Sydney University The number of people with diabetes is expected to increase from 463 million in 2019 to 700 million by 2045 globally. So more women with diabetes will be having babies in the future. If you have diabetes, here’s how to have the best chance of a safe and successful pregnancy, and to give your baby the best start in life. Alternatively, if you have diabetes and want to avoid pregnancy, here’s what to think about when it comes to contraception.   Read more: Explainer: what is diabetes? Why are women with diabetes and their babies at greater risk? Women with diabetes have an increased risk of pregnancy complications, particularly if they’re among the more than 60% whose pregnancies …
Read more
  • 0

Everything you need to know about coeliac disease (and whether you really have it)

Thinking of jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon? Better think again. GlutenFreeChops/Flickr Jason Tye-Din, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute The Neolithic Revolution introduced a whole range of new foods and proteins into the human digestive tract. But this phenomenal change created the perfect conditions for the rise of coeliac disease. While most proteins were readily consumed, some people’s immune systems struggled to tolerate others. Wheat was the first cereal to be widely domesticated, and in the case of the gluten protein from wheat, the result of this struggle was coeliac disease. When people with coeliac disease consume gluten, an abnormal immune reaction occurs causing inflammation and damage to the small bowel lining. This impairs absorption of nutrients and can lead to a wide range of symptoms and medical complications. Ancient condition, 20th century treatment The second century Greek physician Arateus is credited with coining the term coeliac disease, or “koilia…
Read more
  • 0

Enhancing the involvement of people with disabilities in disability research

Very few people with disabilities have access to tertiary education. Pusat Studi dan Layanan Disabilitas, Universitas Brawijaya, Author provided Dina Afrianty, La Trobe University and Slamet Tohari, Universitas Brawijaya To remove the barriers that discriminate against people with disabilities, the Indonesian government should create policies based on high-quality research. People with lived experiences of disability should be at the centre of the research process. This approach is essential because relevant and accurate data can help overcome the social and cultural prejudices that prevent real action for people with disabilities. And it is critical that research reflects their needs because they understand what is needed. The majority of research still deals with people with disabilities as objects of research by restricting them to the role of informants. It is time to start including persons with disabilities as part of the research team. They can then be involved in i…
Read more
  • 0

Higher child support doesn’t lead to welfare dependency for single mums

Hayley Fisher, University of Sydney Child support reduces poverty among single mothers in Australia and does not discourage employment or reduce the number of hours worked. My analysis of data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey studies how the amount of child support a single mother receives, affects how much she works. Previous research has found that single mums with bigger child support payments worked less than those with lower payments. This is partly due to the formula that determines how much child support should be paid. The formula means that when the non-resident father’s income is higher, child support increases. But if a single mother stops working and the father’s income stays the same, her child support payments increase. The formula directly causes child support to increase if hours of work decrease. My analysis adjusts for this and finds that receiving a higher child support payment leads to an increase in the employment rate o…
Read more
  • 0