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Recent media releases from The Department of Public Health

Pānui pāpāho

Progress in the Pacific on sugary drink taxes - research

Tuesday, 8 June 2021 9:17am

Pacific nations are leading the way regionally with taxes on sugary drinks in a bid to battle obesity and related diseases, new University of Otago-led research reveals.

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Misunderstanding may be obstacle to hitting Smokefree 2025 target

Tuesday, 25 May 2021 12:38pm

A lack of understanding about the aims of New Zealand’s Smokefree 2025 goal – 10 years after it was announced – could be an obstacle in making the target a reality, a recent University of Otago-led study shows.

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New Zealand housing lacking basic amenities, new report finds

Thursday, 13 May 2021 10:12am

Five per cent of New Zealand houses lack at least one of six basic amenities including drinkable tap water, electricity, a toilet, and a kitchen sink, a new report from the He Kāinga Oranga Housing and Health Research Programme at the University of Otago, Wellington has found.

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Launch of new public health research programme led by Professor Michael Baker

Tuesday, 20 April 2021 1:42pm

Kōkiri Marae is hosting an all-day hui on Tuesday to launch the SYMBIOTIC Programme, a five-year research programme that focuses on finding ways of reducing the burden of infectious diseases, long-term conditions, and poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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Researchers welcome Smokefree 2025 Action Plan

Thursday, 15 April 2021 2:25pm

Researchers from the University of Otago’s ASPIRE 2025 Research Centre, which carries out research to support the Smokefree 2025 goal, have welcomed and endorsed the action plan for achieving a Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025 released by Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall today.

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Professor Michael Baker wins Prime Minister’s Science Communication Prize

Wednesday, 14 April 2021 9:47am

Professor Michael Baker MNZM, from the Department of Public Health at the University of Otago, Wellington has won the 2020 Prime Minister’s Science Communication Prize.

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Pump up the volume on quality school PE, researchers urge

Friday, 12 March 2021 3:05pm

Increasing the amount of time schools devote to physical education each week could dramatically reduce the number of children who are doing only minimal levels of exercise, researchers from the University of Otago, Wellington and Sport New Zealand have found.

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We must have a better plan for the next pandemic, say Otago researchers

Wednesday, 10 March 2021 3:20pm

Aotearoa New Zealand’s next pandemic plan needs a completely different approach to our previous plan that was focussed on influenza, say researchers from the University of Otago, Wellington in a new article that identifies key lessons from the COVID-19 response for managing future major outbreaks and pandemics.

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Kiwi kids consume five unhealthy snacks a day

Thursday, 11 February 2021 2:41pm

On average, 12-year-old children snack on unhealthy food and beverages five times a day, according to new research from the University of Otago.

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COVID-19 lockdown has mixed effects on smokers

Thursday, 4 February 2021 9:13am

New Zealand’s COVID-19 lockdown had mixed effects on smoking behaviours, a University of Otago study reveals.

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Targeted health messaging needed in era of vaping, researchers say

Wednesday, 27 January 2021 12:01pm

Health authorities should develop targeted health messages for vaping product and e-liquid packaging to encourage smokers to switch from cigarettes to e-cigarettes and to prevent non-smokers from taking up vaping, a researcher at the University of Otago, Wellington says.

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COVID-19 focus for 25th annual Public Health Summer School

Tuesday, 26 January 2021 12:14pm

One year on from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Otago Wellington has assembled a world-leading line-up of expert speakers for its annual Public Health Summer School in February.

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Elimination strategy optimal pandemic response – new research

Wednesday, 23 December 2020 12:17pm

A goal of eliminating community transmission of the pandemic virus causing COVID-19 is achievable and sustainable as a response strategy for COVID-19 and other emerging pandemic diseases, new research suggests.

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Marsden Grants for Wellington research

Monday, 14 December 2020 2:59pm

Three researchers at the University of Otago, Wellington, have received grants from the Marsden Fund to conduct research into topics ranging from tissue grafting to youth substance use to energy use in a warming world.

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COVID-19 unemployment may bring increased risk of heart disease

Friday, 4 December 2020 11:14am

The COVID-19 pandemic-induced recession and rising unemployment may increase the occurrence of heart disease in New Zealand, particularly in middle-aged men.

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Bars facilitating smoking in young adults, study shows

Tuesday, 17 November 2020 11:21am

Designated outdoor smoking areas in bars are facilitating experimentation and tobacco use among young adults, a new study has found.

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Otago researchers secure $17.5m in Marsden funding

Tuesday, 10 November 2020 10:41am

University of Otago researchers have secured $17.5 million in Marsden funding for 30 world-class research projects.

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Eliminating COVID-19: what the world can learn from NZ and Taiwan

Thursday, 22 October 2020 9:34am

Both Taiwan and New Zealand have successfully eliminated COVID-19 with world-leading pandemic responses. By taking a particularly proactive approach, Taiwan’s response was probably the most effective and least disruptive of any country’s, researchers say.

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School zoning could increase adolescent exercise rates, Otago researcher

Monday, 12 October 2020 12:39pm

If effective school zoning policies were widely applied, more adolescents would get valuable exercise walking or cycling to their nearest school, an Otago researcher says.

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Public health experts urge a ‘yes’ vote in cannabis referendum

Friday, 9 October 2020 1:21pm

Leading specialists in addiction treatment, public health, health promotion and epidemiology are calling on New Zealanders to vote for cannabis law reform in the current referendum.

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Smokers increasingly using e-cigarettes to quit, survey shows

Friday, 18 September 2020 9:03am

People who smoke are increasingly using e-cigarettes to try to quit smoking, a study by researchers at the University of Otago, Wellington, has found.

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Otago research rewarded with NZ$27.4 million in Endeavour Fund grants

Friday, 11 September 2020 4:12pm

Two University of Otago proposals have been awarded over NZ$27 million in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Endeavour Fund 2020 grants.

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6 months after New Zealand’s first COVID-19 case, it’s time for a more strategic approach.

Thursday, 27 August 2020 12:32pm

This week marks six months since New Zealand’s first COVID-19 case was identified on February 26.

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Otago experts deemed ‘critic and conscience’ of society

Monday, 3 August 2020 11:53am

For the first time, the Gama Foundation has recognised two people at once for their efforts in being the ‘Critic and Conscience of Society’ – both University of Otago academic staff members.

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Smokers support Smokefree 2025 goal and measures to help achieve it

Wednesday, 8 July 2020 10:30am

Most people who smoke or have recently quit smoking support New Zealand’s goal of becoming a smokefree nation by 2025, researchers at the University of Otago, Wellington have found.

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Food taxes and subsidies would bring major health gains, study shows

Wednesday, 1 July 2020 1:27pm

A consumer tax on the saturated fat, salt and sugar content of food, accompanied by a 20 per cent subsidy on fruit and vegetables, would bring major benefits for the health sector, researchers from Otago, Auckland and Melbourne Universities say.

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Otago scientists secure more than $26m for health research

Tuesday, 30 June 2020 2:21pm

University of Otago, Wellington infectious diseases expert Professor Michael Baker has received almost $5 million from the Health Research Council for a programme investigating the connection between infectious diseases and long-term conditions, something he was planning well prior to the outbreak of Covid-19.

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NZ’s long history of decapitations and paint attacks on public statues: new study

Tuesday, 16 June 2020 2:33pm

Controversy over public statues is nothing new, with protestors taking to New Zealand’s statues with a range of weapons including an axe, a concrete cutter and a hammer over recent decades, a study by researchers from the University of Otago, Wellington, has found.