NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #chronicdisease @SandroDemaio How #obesity ups your chronic disease risk and what to do about it

” Almost two in every three Australian adults are now overweight or obese, as are one in four of our children.

This rising obesity burden is the outcome of a host of factors, many of which are beyond our individual control – and obesity is linked to a number of chronic diseases.”

Dr Sandro Demaio is an Aussie medical doctor and global expert on non-communicable diseases. Co-host of the ABC TV series ‘Ask the Doctor’, author of 30 scientific papers and ‘The Doctor’s Diet’ (a cookbook based on science) see Part 2 below 

This article was originally published HERE 

Part 1 NACCHO Policy

” The committee heard that Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) run effective programs aimed at preventing and addressing the high prevalence of obesity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ms Pat Turner, Chief Executive Officer of National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), gave the example of the Deadly Choices program, which is about organised sports and activities for young people.

She explained that to participate in the program, prospective participants need to have a health check covered by Medicare, which is an opportunity to assess their current state of health and map out a treatment plan if necessary.

However, NACCHO is of the view that ACCHOs need to be better resourced to promote healthy nutrition and physical activity.

Access to healthy and fresh foods in remote Australia

Ms Turner also pointed out that ‘the supply of fresh foods to remote communities and regional communities is a constant problem’.

From NACCHO Submission Read here 

” Many community members in the NT who suffer from chronic illnesses would benefit immensely from using Health Care Homes.

Unfortunately, with limited English, this meant an increased risk of them being inadvertently excluded from the initiative.

First, Italk Alice Springs produced the English version of the story. Then using qualified interpreters, they produced Aboriginal language versions in eight languages: Anmatyerre, Alyawarr, Arrernte, East Side Kriol, West Side Kriol, Pitjatjantjara, Warlpiri and Yolngu Matha

Read Article HERE

Figure 2.22-1 Proportion of persons 15 years and over (age-standardised) by BMI category and Indigenous status, 2012–13
Proportion of persons 15 years and over (age-standardised)

Source: ABS and AIHW analysis of 2012–13 AATSIHS

Read over 60 Aboriginal Health and Obesity articles published by NACCHO over past 7 Years

What is chronic disease?

Chronic disease is a broad term, which includes type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancers, certain lung conditions, mental illness and genetic disorders. They are often defined by having complex and multiple causes, and are long-term or persistent (‘chronic’ actually means long-term).

How is obesity linked to chronic disease?

Obesity increases the risk of developing certain chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases (heart disease and stroke), sleep disorders, type 2 diabetes and at least 13 types of cancer.

Type 2 diabetes and obesity:

Obesity is the leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and even being slightly overweight increases this risk. Type 2 diabetes is characterised physiologically by decreased insulin secretion as well as increased insulin resistance due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Left uncontrolled, this can lead to a host of nasty outcomes like blindness, kidney problems, heart disease and even loss of feeling in our hands and feet.

Obstructive sleep apnoea and obesity:

This is another chronic disease often linked to obesity. Sleep apnoea is caused when our large air passage is partially or fully blocked by a combination of factors, including the weight of fat tissue sitting on our neck. It can cause us to jolt awake, gasping for oxygen. It leads to poor sleep, which adds physiological pressure to critical organs.

A woman preparing vegetables for a meal

Cancer and obesity:

This is a disease of altered gene expression. It originates from changes to the cell’s DNA caused by a range of factors, including inherited mutations, inflammation, hormones, and external factors including tobacco use, radiation from the sun, and carcinogenic agents in food. Strong evidence also links obesity to a number of cancers including throat cancer, bowel cancer, cancer of the liver, gallbladder and bile ducts, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer and kidney cancer.

Obesity is also associated with high blood pressure and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

This might sound overwhelming, but it’s not all bad news. Here are a few things we can all start to do today to reduce our risk of obesity and associated chronic disease:

1. Eat more fruit and veg

Most dietary advice revolves around eating less. But if we can replace an unhealthy diet with an abundance of fresh, whole fruits and vegetables – at least two servings of fruit per day and five servings of vegetables – we can reduce our risk of obesity whilst still embracing our love for good food.

2. Limit our alcohol consumption

Forgo that glass of wine or beer after a long hard day at work and opt instead for something else that helps us relax. Pure alcohol is inherently full of energy – containing twice the energy per gram as sugar. This energy is surplus and non-essential to our nutritional needs, so contributes to our widening waistlines. And whether we’re out for drinks with mates or at a function, we can reduce our consumption by spacing out our drinks and holding off before reaching for another glass.

3. Get moving

While not everyone loves a morning sprint, there are many enjoyable ways to maintain a sufficient level of physical activity. Doing some form of exercise for at least 30 minutes each day is an effective way of keeping our waistlines in check. So, take a break to stretch out the muscles a few times during the workday, spend an afternoon at the local pool, get out into the garden or take some extra time to ride or walk to work. If none of these appeal, do some research to find the right exercise that will be fun and achievable.

Two women exercising in a park together

4. Buddy up

There’s nothing like a bit of peer pressure to get us healthy and active. Pick a friend who has the same goals and encourage each other to keep going. Sign up for exercise classes together, meet for a walk, have them over for a healthy meal, share tips and seek out support when feeling uninspired.

5. Prioritise sleep

Some argue that sleep is the healthy icing on the longevity cake. The benefits of a good night’s sleep are endless, with recent research suggesting it can even benefit our decision-making and self-discipline, making it easier to resist that ‘between-meal’ treat. Furthermore, lack of sleep can increase our appetite and see us lose the enthusiasm to stay active.

Above all, we need to foster patience and perseverance when it comes to achieving a healthy weight. It might not happen overnight, but it is within reach.

Let’s start today!

Co-host of the ABC TV series ‘Ask the Doctor’, author of 30 scientific papers and ‘The Doctor’s Diet’ (a cookbook based on science), Dr Sandro Demaio is an Aussie medical doctor and global expert on non-communicable diseases.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Obesity : #refreshtheCTGrefresh : Download the Select Committee into the #Obesity Epidemic in Australia 22 recommendations : With feedback from @ACDPAlliance @janemartinopc

The Federal Government must impose a tax on sugary drinks, mandate Health Star Ratings and ban junk food ads on TV until 9 pm if it wants to drive down Australia’s obesity rates, a Senate committee has concluded.

The Select Committee into the Obesity Epidemic, comprising senators from all major parties and chaired by Greens leader Richard Di Natale, has tabled a far-reaching report with 22 recommendations.”

See SMH Article Part 1 below

Download PDF copy of report

Senate Obesity report

Extract from Report Programs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

The committee heard that Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) run effective programs aimed at preventing and addressing the high prevalence of obesity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ms Pat Turner, Chief Executive Officer of National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), gave the example of the Deadly Choices program, which is about organised sports and activities for young people.

She explained that to participate in the program, prospective participants need to have a health check covered by Medicare, which is an opportunity to assess their current state of health and map out a treatment plan if necessary.

However, NACCHO is of the view that ACCHOs need to be better resourced to promote healthy nutrition and physical activity.

Access to healthy and fresh foods in remote Australia

Ms Turner also pointed out that ‘the supply of fresh foods to remote communities and regional communities is a constant problem’.

From NACCHO Submission Read here 

Recommendation 21 see all Recommendations Part 2

The committee recommends the proposed National Obesity Taskforce is funded to develop and oversee culturally appropriate prevention and intervention programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Recommendation 22

The committee recommends the Commonwealth develop additional initiatives and incentives aimed at increasing access, affordability and consumption of fresh foods in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“Unhealthy weight is a major risk factor for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Preventing obesity in children is particularly important, as it is difficult to reverse weight gain once established,” 

Chair of the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance Sharon McGowan said limiting unhealthy food marketing would reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food and its subsequent consumption.See in full Part 3

“Obesity in this country has reached epidemic proportions, but it is not a problem without a solution. Today’s report demonstrates a willingness from representatives across all political parties to investigate the systemic causes of obesity and develop a way forward.”

A key recommendation from the Inquiry’s report is the introduction of a tax on sugary drinks; something the OPC has led calls for, and which has been supported by around 40 public health, community and academic groups in the Tipping the Scales report.

Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition, said that when two thirds of Australians are overweight or obese, the Inquiry’s comprehensive report provides an acknowledgement of the scale of the problem and a blueprint for tackling it .See part 4 Below for full press release

Part 1 SMH Article 

About 63 per cent of Australian adults are overweight or obese.

In a move that will likely delight health groups and enrage the food and beverage industries, it has recommended the government slap a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), saying this would reduce sugar consumption, improve public health and push manufacturers to reformulate their products.

“The World Health Organisation has recommended governments tax sugary drinks and, at present, over 30 jurisdictions across the world have introduced a SSB tax as part of their effort and commitment toward preventing and controlling the rise of obesity,” the report said.

While health groups, such as Cancer Council, have demanded a 20 per cent levy, the committee suggested the government find the best fiscal model to achieve a price increase of at least 20 per cent.

“The impacts of sugary drinks are borne most by those on low income and they will also reap the most benefits from measures that change the behaviour of manufacturers,” it said.

About 63 per cent of Australian adults and 27 per cent of children aged 5 to 17 are overweight or obese, which increases the risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

At the heart of the report is the recognition of the need for a National Obesity Taskforce, comprising government, health, industry and community representatives, which would sit within the Department of Health and be responsible for a National Obesity Strategy as well as a National Childhood Obesity Strategy.

“Australia does not have an overarching strategy to combat obesity,” it said.

“Many of the policy areas required to identify the causes, impacts and potential solutions to the obesity problem span every level of government.”

The committee has also urged the government to mandate the Health Star Rating (HSR) system, which is undergoing a five-year review, by 2020.

The voluntary front-of-pack labelling system has come under fire for producing questionable, confusing ratings – such as four stars for Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain – and becoming a “marketing tool”.

“Making it mandatory will drive food companies to reformulate more of their products in order to achieve higher HSR ratings,” the report said.

“The committee also believes that, once the HSR is made mandatory, the HSR calculator could be regularly adjusted to make it harder to achieve a five star rating.”

Pointing to a conflict-of-interest, it has recommended the HSR’s Technical Advisory Group expel members representing the industry.

“Representatives of the food and beverage industry sectors may be consulted for technical advice but [should] no longer sit on the HSR Calculator Technical Advisory Group,” it said.

The government has also been asked to consider introducing legislation to restrict junk food ads on free-to-air television until 9pm.

The group said existing voluntary codes were inadequate and also suggested that all junk food ads in all forms of media should display the product’s HSR.

The committee is made up of seven senators – two  Liberals, two Labor, one each from the Greens and One Nation and independent Tim Storer.

The Liberals wrote dissenting statements, saying a taskforce was unnecessary, HSR should remain voluntary, there shouldn’t be a sugar tax, and current advertising regulations were enough.

“No witnesses who appeared before the inquiry could point to any jurisdiction in the world where the introduction of a sugar tax led to a fall in obesity rates,” they said.

Labor senators also said there was no need for a sugar tax because there isn’t enough evidence.

“Labor senators are particularly concerned that an Australian SSB would likely be regressive, meaning that it would impact lower-income households disproportionately,” they said.

Committee chair, Dr Di Natale said: “We need the full suite of options recommended by the committee if we’re serious about making Australians happier, healthier, and more active.”

Part 2 ALL 22 Recommendations

Recommendation 1

The committee recommends that Commonwealth funding for overweight and obesity prevention efforts and treatment programs should be contingent on the appropriate use of language to avoid stigma and blame in all aspects of public health campaigns, program design and delivery.

Recommendation 2

The committee recommends that the Commonwealth Department of Health work with organisations responsible for training medical and allied health professionals to incorporate modules specifically aimed at increasing the understanding and awareness of stigma and blame in medical, psychological and public health interventions of overweight and obesity.

Recommendation 3

The committee recommends the establishment of a National Obesity Taskforce, comprising representatives across all knowledge sectors from federal, state, and local government, and alongside stakeholders from the NGO, private sectors and community members. The Taskforce should sit within the Commonwealth Department of Health and be responsible for all aspects of government policy direction, implementation and the management of funding

Recommendation 3.1

The committee recommends that the newly established National Obesity Taskforce develop a National Obesity Strategy, in consultation with all key stakeholders across government, the NGO and private sectors.

Recommendation 3.2

The committee recommends that the Australian Dietary Guidelines are updated every five years.

Recommendation 6

The committee recommends the Minister for Rural Health promote to the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation the adoption of the following changes to the current Health Star Rating system:

  • The Health Star Rating Calculator be modified to address inconsistencies in the calculation of ratings in relation to:
  • foods high in sugar, sodium and saturated fat;
  • the current treatment of added sugar;
  • the current treatment of fruit juices;
  • the current treatment of unprocessed fruit and vegetables; and
  • the ‘as prepared’ rules.
  • Representatives of the food and beverage industry sectors may be consulted for technical advice but no longer sit on the HSR Calculator Technical Advisory Group.
  • The Health Star Rating system be made mandatory by 2020.

Recommendation 7

The committee recommends Food Standards Australia New Zealand undertake a review of voluntary front-of-pack labelling schemes to ensure they are fit-forpurpose and adequately represent the nutritional value of foods and beverages.

Recommendation 8

The committee recommends the Minister for Rural Health promote to the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation the adoption of mandatory labelling of added sugar on packaged foods and drinks.

Recommendation 9

The committee recommends that the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council work with the Department of Health to develop a nutritional information label for fast food menus with the goal of achieving national consistency and making it mandatory in all jurisdictions.

Recommendation 10

The committee recommends the Australian Government introduce a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, with the objectives of reducing consumption, improving public health and accelerating the reformulation of products.

Recommendation 11

The committee recommends that, as part of the 2019 annual review of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice, Free TV Australia introduce restrictions on discretionary food and drink advertising on free-to-air television until 9.00pm.

Recommendation 12

The committee recommends that the Australian Government consider introducing legislation to restrict discretionary food and drink advertising on free-toair television until 9.00pm if these restrictions are not voluntary introduced by Free TV Australia by 2020.

Recommendation 13

The committee recommends the Australian Government make mandatory the display of the Health Star Rating for food and beverage products advertised on all forms of media.

Recommendation 14

The committee recommends the proposed National Obesity Taskforce is funded to develop and oversee the implementation of a range of National Education Campaigns with different sectors of the Australian community. Educational campaigns will be context dependent and aimed at supporting individuals, families and communities to build on cultural practices and improve nutrition literacy and behaviours around diet, physical activity and well-being.

Recommendation 15

The committee recommends that the National Obesity Taskforce, when established, form a sub-committee directly responsible for the development and management of a National Childhood Obesity Strategy.

Recommendation 16

The committee recommends the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) consider adding obesity to the list of medical conditions eligible for the Chronic Disease Management scheme.

Recommendation 17

The committee recommends the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and other college of professional bodies educate their members about the benefits of bariatric surgical interventions for some patients.

Recommendation 18

The committee recommends the proposed National Obesity Taskforce commission evaluations informed by multiple methods of past and current multistrategy prevention programs with the view of designing future programs.

Recommendation 19

The committee recommends the proposed National Obesity Taskforce is funded to develop and oversee the implementation of multi-strategy, community based prevention programs in partnership with communities.

Recommendation 20

The committee recommends the proposed National Obesity Taskforce develop a National Physical Activity Strategy.

Recommendation 21

The committee recommends the proposed National Obesity Taskforce is funded to develop and oversee culturally appropriate prevention and intervention programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Recommendation 22

The committee recommends the Commonwealth develop additional initiatives and incentives aimed at increasing access, affordability and consumption of fresh foods in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

Part 3 Protect our children chronic disease groups support calls to restrict junk food advertising

Junk food advertising to children urgently needs to be better regulated.

That’s a recommendation from the Senate report on obesity, released last night, and a message that the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance strongly supports.

Chair of the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance Sharon McGowan said limiting unhealthy food marketing would reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food and its subsequent consumption.

“Unhealthy weight is a major risk factor for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Preventing obesity in children is particularly important, as it is difficult to reverse weight gain once established,” Ms McGowan said.

Ms McGowan said one in four children are already overweight or obese, and more likely to grow into adults who are overweight or obese with greater risk of chronic disease.

“While there are multiple factors influencing unhealthy weight gain, this is not an excuse for inaction,” she said. “Food companies are spending big money targeting our kids, unhealthy food advertising fills our television screens, our smartphones and digital media channels.

“Currently, self-regulation by industry is limited and there are almost no restrictions for advertising unhealthy foods online – this has to stop.

“We need to act now to stem this tide of obesity and preventable chronic disease, or we risk being the first generation to leave our children with a shorter life expectancy than our own.”

The Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance also welcomed the Report’s recommendations for the establishment of a National Obesity Taskforce, improvements to the Health Star Rating food labelling system, development a National Physical Activity Strategy and introduction of a sugary drinks levy.

“We support the recent Government commitment to develop a national approach to obesity and urge the government to incorporate the recommendations from the Senate report for a well-rounded approach to tackle obesity in Australia,” Ms McGowan said.

Part 4

Sugary drink levy among 22 recommendations

The Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) has welcomed a Senate Inquiry report into the Obesity Epidemic in Australia as an important step toward saving Australians from a lifetime of chronic disease and even premature death.

Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition, said that when two thirds of Australians are overweight or obese, the Inquiry’s comprehensive report provides an acknowledgement of the scale of the problem and a blueprint for tackling it.

“Obesity in this country has reached epidemic proportions, but it is not a problem without a solution. Today’s report demonstrates a willingness from representatives across all political parties to investigate the systemic causes of obesity and develop a way forward.”

A key recommendation from the Inquiry’s report is the introduction of a tax on sugary drinks; something the OPC has led calls for, and which has been supported by around 40 public health, community and academic groups in the Tipping the Scales report.

“Sugar is a problem in our diets and sugary drinks are the largest contributor of added sugar for Australians. Consumption of these beverages is associated with chronic health conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and tooth decay,” Ms Martin said.

“We have been calling for a 20% health levy on sugary drinks for a number of years, but Australia continues to lag behind 45 other jurisdictions around the world that have introduced levies. When sugary drinks are often cheaper than water, it’s time to take action.”

The report also calls for a review of the current rules around junk food advertising to children.

Ms Martin insisted any review should prioritise an end to the advertising industry’s selfregulated codes.

“We know industry marketing is having a negative effect; it directly impacts what children eat and what they pester their parents for. It’s wallpaper in their lives, bombarding them during their favourite TV shows, infiltrating their social media feeds and plastering their sports grounds and uniforms when they play sport,” Ms Martin said.

“With more than one in four Australian children overweight or obese, it’s time for the Government to acknowledge that leaving food and beverage companies to make their own sham rules allows them to continue to prioritise profits over kids’ health.”

While the Inquiry’s report calls for a National Obesity Strategy, a commitment announced by the COAG Health Ministers earlier this year, Ms Martin stressed that this must be developed independently, without the involvement of the ultra-processed food industry, which has already hampered progress to date.

“The OPC, along with 40 leading community and public health groups, have set out clear actions on how best to tackle obesity in our consensus report, Tipping the Scales. These actions came through strongly from many of the groups who participated in the inquiry and we are pleased to see them reflected in the recommendations.

“The evidence is clear on what works to prevent and reduce obesity, but for real impact we need leadership from policy makers. We need to stop placing the blame on individuals. The Federal and State governments must now work together to push those levers under their control to stem the tide of obesity.”

The senate inquiry report contains 22 recommendations which address the causes, control of obesity, including:

  • The establishment of a National Obesity Taskforce, with a view to develop a National Obesity Strategy
  • Introduction of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages
  • The Health Star Rating system be made mandatory by 2020
  • Adoption of mandatory labelling of added sugar
  • Restrictions on discretionary food and drink advertising on free-to-air television until 9pm
  • Implementation of a National Education Campaign aimed at improving nutrition literacy and behaviours around diet and physical activity
  • Form a sub-committee from the National Obesity Taskforce around the development and management of a National Childhood Obesity Strategy

BACKGROUND:

On 10 May 2018, the Senate voted to establish an inquiry to examine the impacts of Australia’s obesity epidemic.

The Select Committee into the obesity epidemic was established on 16 May 2018 to look at the causes of rising levels of obese and overweight people in Australia and how the issue affects children. It also considered the economic burden of the health concern and the effectiveness of existing programs to improve diets and tackle childhood obesity. The inquiry has received 145 submissions and has published its full report today.

The Committee held public hearings from public health, industry and community groups. The OPC provided a submission and Jane Martin gave evidence at one of these sessions.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #refreshtheCTGRefresh : Download the @AIHW National Key Performance Indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care: results for 2017 showing improvements in 16 out of a possible 23 measures

Between June and December 2017, improvements were seen in 16 out of a possible 23 measures for which comparable data for both periods were available (see Table S1 for details). Results for a further indicator remained stable between reporting periods.

The improvements were seen in 12 of the 15 process-of-care measures with comparable data. Improvements were also seen in 4 of the 8 outcome measures, while 1 outcome measure remained stable. The largest improvements (4 or 5 percentage points) were seen in the recording practices for the measuring of:

  • influenza immunisations for clients with type 2 diabetes, which rose from 31% to 36%
  • influenza immunisations for clients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which rose from 32% to 37%
  • influenza immunisations for clients aged 50 and over, which rose from 32% to 36%. ” 

 Extract from good news from AIHW Report

 Download full 158 page report HERE

aihw-ihw-200 (1)

Summary

This is the fifth national report on the Indigenous primary health care national Key Performance Indicators (nKPIs) data collection. It presents data on all 24 nKPI indicators for the first time.

Data for this collection are provided to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) by primary health care organisations that receive funding from the Australian Government Department of Health to provide services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Some primary health care organisations included in the collection receive additional funding from other sources, including state and territory health departments.

As of the June 2017 data collection, changes have been made to the data extraction method, with the Department of Health introducing a new direct load reporting process. This allowed Communicare, Medical Director, and Primary Care Information System (PCIS) clinical information systems (CISs) to generate nKPI data within their clinical system, and transmit directly to the OCHREStreams portal. Best Practice services were provided with an interim tool while MMEx has always had direct load capability.

61.9 % our ACCHO’s

The new process was introduced to provide a greater level of consistency between CISs, but the change in the extraction method means that data from June 2017 onwards are not comparable with earlier collections.

As the June 2017 collection represents a new baseline for the collection, this report only presents data for June and December 2017.

For 2 indicators (Kidney function tests recorded and Kidney function test results) only December 2017 results are presented due to unresolved data quality issues in June 2017.

See Chapter 2 for more information on the change in extraction method, data quality, and the impact  on the collection, and Appendix E for data improvement projects and the nKPI/Online Service Reporting (OSR) review under way.

Improvements were seen for most indicators between June and December 2017. Although data from these 2 reporting periods are not comparable with earlier reporting periods, an overall pattern of improvement is in keeping with the pattern of improvement previously reported for the period June 2012 to May 2015 (see AIHW 2017). This indicates that health organisations continue to show progress in service provision.

Things to work on

For the 3 process-of-care indicators that did not show improvements—glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) result recorded (6 months), cervical screening, and Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) health assessment for those aged 0–4—the changes were very small (0.5, 0.4, and 0.1 percentage points, respectively).

In the case of cervical screening, this might be due to changes to the cervical screening program, which took effect from 1 December 2017 (see Chapter 4 for details).

Three outcome measures that did not show improvements—HbA1c result of 7% or less, low birthweight, and smoking status of women who gave birth in the previous 12 months—saw changes of between 0.8 and 1.8 percentage points.

Contents

  • 1 Introduction
    • The nKPI collection
    • Structure of this report
  • 2 Data quality
    • Data quality issues
    • Additional considerations for interpreting nKPI data
  • 3 Maternal and child health indicators
    • Why are these indicators important?
    • 3.1 First antenatal visit
    • 3.2 Birthweight recorded
    • 3.3 MBS health assessment (item 715) for children aged 0-4
    • 3.4 Child immunisation
    • 3.5 Birthweight result
    • 3.6 Smoking status of females who gave birth within the previous 12 months
  • 4 Preventative health indicators
    • Why are these important?
    • 4.1 Smoking status recorded
    • 4.2 Alcohol consumption recorded
    • 4.3 MBS health assessment (item 715) for adults aged 25 and over
    • 4.4 Risk factors assessed to enable cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment
    • 4.5 Cervical screening
    • 4.6 Immunised against influenza-Indigenous regular clients aged 50 and over
    • 4.7 Smoking status result
    • 4.8 Body mass index classified as overweight or obese
    • 4.9 AUDIT-C result
    • 4.10 Cardiovascular disease risk assessment result
  • 5 Chronic disease management indicators
    • Why are these important?
    • 5.1 General Practitioner Management Plan-clients with type 2 diabetes
    • 5.2 Team Care Arrangement-clients with type 2 diabetes
    • 5.3 Blood pressure result recorded-clients with type 2 diabetes
    • 5.4 HbA1c result recorded-clients with type 2 diabetes
    • 5.5 Kidney function test recorded-clients with type 2 diabetes
    • 5.6 Kidney function test recorded-clients with cardiovascular disease
    • 5.7 Immunised against influenza-clients with type 2 diabetes
    • 5.8 Immunised against influenza-clients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
    • 5.9 Blood pressure result-clients with type 2 diabetes
    • 5.10 HbA1c result-clients with type 2 diabetes
    • 5.11 Kidney function test result-clients with type 2 diabetes-eGFR
    • 5.12 Kidney function test result-clients with type 2 diabetes-ACR
    • 5.13 Kidney function test result-clients with cardiovascular disease-eGFR
  • 6 Discussion
    • Data improvements
  • Appendix A: Background to the nKPI collection and indicator technical specifications
  • Appendix B: Data completeness
  • Appendix C: Comparison of nKPI results
  • Appendix D: State and territory and remoteness variation figures
  • Appendix E: Data improvement projects
  • Appendix F: Guide to the figures
  • Glossary
  • References

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Nutrition : Download @aihw Nutrition across the life stages report @CHFofAustralia Poor diet findings underline calls for action on #obesity now : More than one-third of Australians’ energy intake comes from junk foods.

 

” More than one-third of Australians’ energy intake comes from junk foods. Known as discretionary foods, these include biscuits, chips, ice-cream and alcohol. For those aged 51-70, alcoholic drinks account for more than one-fifth of discretionary food intake.

These are some of the findings from the Nutrition across the life stages report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare ” 

From The Conversation see Part 3 below

Download copy aihw-nutrition report

 ” Overall, the diets of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are similar. However, Indigenous adults in some age groups eat less fruit, vegetables and dairy products and alternatives.

They also have a lower intake of fibre and a higher intake of discretionary food and added sugars than non-Indigenous adults.”

For Indigenous Health see page 108 or Part 2 Below

Part 1 Poor diet findings underline calls for action on obesity now

Read our NACCHO Obesity submission plus 60 articles here

The poor diet of many Australians, beginning in childhood, as revealed in a new official report, underlines the need for concerted national action on obesity, the Consumers Health Forum has said

The report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released today shows that Australians generally do not eat enough of the right food, like vegetables, and too much food rich in fat, salt and sugars.

“These findings again vindicate calls over the years by health and community groups for concerted action on obesity and at last, Australia’s health ministers have agreed to develop a national strategy to counter this huge public health challenge,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

“We welcome the decision by the COAG Health Ministers Council last week to develop a national plan on obesity.

“As this new AIHW report Nutrition across the life stages, shows, there is great scope for improving diets of most Australians of all ages.  This includes children whose formative diets do not include enough vegetables, teenagers who tend to eat too much junk food and even those in middle age whose alcohol intake is often too high.

“It has taken too long to reach a national agreement for action on obesity.  Now health ministers must move promptly to introduce effective measures.

“Governments have a ready-made blueprint for action, provided by the Obesity Policy Coalition’s report Tipping the Scales, which CHF strongly supported.

“After a comprehensive and expert investigation, that report proposed eight critical actions to tackle obesity.  These included tougher restrictions on TV junk food advertising, food reformulation targets, mandatory Health Star ratings on food, an active transport strategy, public health education campaigns and a 20 per cent health levy on sugary drinks.

The Health Ministers considered a number of aspects relating to obesity. They agreed that the national strategy should have a strong focus on prevention measures and social determinants of health, especially in relation to early childhood and rural and regional issues.

The Consumers Health Forum has called for more effective measures to counter obesity over several years.

In January 2015, with the support of the Obesity Policy Coalition, the Heart Foundation and the Public Health Association of Australia, CHF released the results of an Essential Research poll showing strong community backing for national action on obesity.

That poll revealed that 79 per cent of Australians polled believed that if we don’t do more to lower the intake of fatty sugary and salty foods/drinks, our children will live shorter lives than their parents. Half of those polled then approved of the idea of a tax on junk food/sugary drinks.

“We called then for the Federal Government to take decisive action to stop the never-ending promotion of unhealthy food and drink, particularly to young people.

“Australia has lagged behind other nations in taking effective action against obesity which is one of the greatest triggers of chronic health problems which afflict a growing number of Australians.

Unless we act now to arrest this trend, it will add up to even greater demands on our health system as it attempts to manage the growing levels of chronic disease in the community.

“The time for talk is well past.  We need action now,” Ms Wells said.

Part 2 Indigenous Australians

This report looked at whether food and nutrient intakes and health outcomes differ between
Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and found that overall, there is little difference.
Intake of serves from the 5 food groups for Indigenous children is similar to the intake for
non-Indigenous children.

However, differences are seen in the adult populations, particularly for fruit, vegetables, dairy products and alternatives (for those aged 19–50 and 71 and over) and grain foods
(for those aged 19–50), where intake is lower for Indigenous Australians.

Comparing the contribution of discretionary food to energy intake for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, the main differences are seen in women aged 19–30 and men and
women aged 31–50, with the contribution being higher in Indigenous Australians

While the intake of added sugars appears higher among Indigenous Australians than non-Indigenous Australians, this is only significant in those aged 19–30 and 31–50. Intake of saturated and trans fats and sodium are similar for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Fibre intake for Indigenous Australians aged 19–30 and 31–50 is lower than for non-Indigenous Australians.

The small survey sample for Indigenous Australians makes comparisons difficult when looking at  levels of physical activity as there is a high margin of error, so results should be interpreted with caution.

Levels of sufficient physical activity appear higher in Indigenous Australians; however, in most cases, the differences are not statistically significant.

The only exceptions are children aged 4–8 and boys aged 9–13, where the levels are higher in Indigenous Australians. For adults aged 19–30 and 31–50, non-Indigenous Australians have higher levels of physical activity.

For males, the prevalence of overweight and obesity does not differ by Indigenous status.

However, for women, from the age of 19, the prevalence is higher among Indigenous women than non-Indigenous women.

Among Indigenous Australians, there is no difference in the prevalence of overweight and obesity between males and females, unlike non-Indigenous Australians, where from the age of 19, the prevalence is higher in men than women.

Diet quality among Indigenous Australians may be affected by the remoteness of the area in which they live, as a higher proportion of Indigenous Australians live outside of Major cities than non-Indigenous Australians (AIHW 2018a).

Hudson (2010) suggests that many Indigenous Australians know what foods they need to maintain health; however, supply and affordability of fresh produce appear to be limiting factors in dietary quality.

Limited stock of fruit and vegetables have been found in remote shops near Indigenous communities, with some areas going without a delivery of fresh produce for weeks. And what is available is expensive.

When deliveries are received, stock can be up to 2 weeks old, so of poor quality. Additionally, lack of competition in these areas appears to be a factor with price.

Fibre-modified and fortified white bread appears to provide a large proportion of energy and required key nutrients for Indigenous Australians living in remote areas (in particular protein, folate, iron and calcium) (Brimblecombe et al. 2013a; Brimblecombe et al. 2013b; Gwynn et al. 2012).

The diet of Indigenous Australians have for some time, been shifting from traditional Indigenous diets that were previously high protein, fibre, polyunsaturated fat and complex carbohydrates to a more highly refined carbohydrate diet, with added sugars, saturated fat, sodium and low levels of fibre (Ferguson et al. 2017).

This may be due to lack of access to traditional food and general food affordability (Brimblecombe et al. 2014).

Lack of facilities to prepare and store food such as refrigerators and stovetops, have also caused an increased reliance of ready-made meals or takeaway foods for Indigenous Australians living in remote areas (Hudson 2010).

Part 3 from The Conversation

From HERE 

The report also shows physical activity levels are low in most age groups. Only 15% of 9-to-13-year-old girls achieve the 60-minute target. The prevalence of overweight and obesity remains high, reaching 81% for males aged 51–70.

The food intake patterns outlined in this report, together with low physical activity levels, highlight why as a country we are struggling to turn the tide on obesity rates.

Not much change in our diets

The report shows little has changed in Australians’ overall food intake patterns between 1995 and 2011-12. There have been slight decreases in discretionary food intake, with some trends for increased intakes of grain foods and meat and alternatives.

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/q7vtu/4/

The message to eat more vegetables is not hitting the mark. There has been no change in vegetable intake in children and adolescents and a decrease in vegetable intake in adults since past surveys. The new data show all Australians fall well short of the recommended five serves daily. We are are closer to meeting the recommended one to two serves of fruit each day.

Australians are consuming around four serves of grains, including breads and cereals, compared to the recommended three to seven serves.

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/dJD6n/4/

One serve of vegetables is equivalent to ½ cup of cooked vegetables. For fruit, this is a medium apple; grains is around ½ cup of pasta. A glass of milk and 65-120g of cooked meat are the equivalent serves for dairy and its alternatives, and meat and its alternatives respectively.

The data show a trend of lower serves of the five food groups in outer metro, regional and remote areas of Australia. Access to quality, fresh foods such as vegetables at affordable prices is a key barrier in many remote communities and can be a challenge in outer suburban and country areas of Australia.

There was also a 7-10 percentage point difference in meeting physical activity targets between major cities and regional or remote areas of Australia. Overweight and obesity levels were 53% in major cities, 57% in inner regional areas and 61% in outer regional/remote areas.

The CSIRO Healthy Diet Score compares food intake to Australian Dietary Guidelines. You can use these to see how your diet stacks up and how to improve.

Discretionary food servings

Discretionary foods are defined in guidelines as foods and drinks that are

not needed to meet nutrient requirements and do not fit into the Five Food Groups … but when consumed sometimes or in small amounts, these foods and drinks contribute to the overall enjoyment of eating.

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/ZyNXL/4/

A serve of discretionary food is 600kJ, equivalent to six hot chips, two plain biscuits, or a small glass of wine. The guidelines advise no more than three serves of these daily – 0.5 serves for under 8-year-olds.

Since 1995, the contribution of added sugars and saturated fat to Australians’ energy intake has generally decreased. This may be a reflection of the small decrease in discretionary food intake seen for most age groups.

But across all life stages, discretionary food intakes remain well in excess of the 0-3 serves recommended. Children at 2-3 years are eating more than three servers per day, peaking at seven daily serves in 14-to-18-year-olds. The patterns remains high throughout adulthood, still more four serves per day in the 70+ group.


Read more: Junk food packaging hijacks the same brain processes as drug and alcohol addiction


The excess intake of discretionary foods is the most concerning trend in this report. This is due to the doubleheader of their poor nutrient profile and being eaten in place of important, nutrient-rich groups such as vegetables, whole grains and dairy foods.

Our simulation modelling compared strategies to reduce discretionary food intake in the Australian population. We found cutting discretionary choice intake by half or replacing half of discretionary choices with the five food groups would have significant benefits for reducing intake of energy and so-called “risk” nutrients (sodium and added sugar), while maintaining or improving overall diet quality.

Main contributors to discretionary foods

Alcohol is often the forgotten discretionary choice. The NHMRC 2009 guidelines state:

For healthy men and women, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day (and no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion) reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury.

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/cqgYQ/2/

For adults aged 51–70, alcoholic drinks account for more than one-fifth (22%) of discretionary food intake. Alcohol intake in adults aged 51-70+ has increased since 1995. This age group includes people at the peak of their careers, retirees and older people. Stress, increased leisure time, mental health challenges and factors such as loneliness and isolation would all play a part in this complex picture.

 

Young children have small appetites and every bite matters. The guidelines suggest 2-to-3-year-olds should have very limited exposure to discretionary foods. In, studies the greatest levels of excess weight are seen in preschool years.

Biscuits, cakes and muffins are the key source of added sugars for young children. These are also the top source of energy and saturated fat and a key source of salt in young children. This is the time when lasting food habits and preferences are formed.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Diabetes @AIHW releases web-based progress report Goal 5: Reduce the impact of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

The Australian National Diabetes Strategy 2016–2020 (the Strategy), which was released on 13 November 2015, aims to prioritise Australia’s response to diabetes and identify approaches to reducing the impact of diabetes in the community (Department of Health 2015).

The Strategy outlines seven high-level goals with potential areas for actions and measures of progress.

Diabetes in Australia: focus on the future is an implementation plan (the Plan) developed for the Strategy to operationalise each of the Strategy’s goals (AHMAC 2017).

The Plan was agreed by all governments as activities that, at that time, could be developed, expanded, or modified to produce targeted, tangible improvements in the prevention, early detection, management and care of all forms of diabetes.

The Plan identified 55 indicators to measure progress against the goals of the Strategy.

A number of these indicators are currently reported in existing national frameworks (such as Report on Government Services, National Health Performance Framework, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework, and Indigenous Primary Health Care National Key Performance Indicators).

This web-based report provides baseline data for the 55 indicators identified in the implementation plan.

Additional Read over 150 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Diabetes articles published over 6 years 

Goal

Goal 5 focusses on reducing the impact of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

A number of indicators were identified to measure the progress of Goal 5, some of which were included in Goals 1-4 and, where possible, have been included under the relevant goal above:

The indicators reported specifically for Goal 5 are:

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Sugarydrinks : @BakerResearchAu Study reveals the damaging effects for inactive, young, obese people who consume soft drink regularly : What’s going on inside your veins ?

“ With lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity rising rapidly and sugar sweetened beverages the largest source of added sugars in Western diets, understanding the ‘real world’ health impact is critical in determining ‘real world’ prevention and intervention strategies,”

Professor Bronwyn Kingwell, the study’s senior author : See Baker Institute Press Release Part 1

If you did this day in, day out, your pancreas would be under considerable stress – and this is how diabetes can develop.

Having a little can of soft drink in the morning is going to have lasting effects throughout the day.”

If your diet has too much sugar in it, forcing your body to keep your insulin high all the time, eventually your cells will grow insulin-resistant. That forces the pancreas to make even more insulin, adding to its workload. Eventually, it will burn out

Professor Bronwyn Kingwell. See SMH Article Part 2 What’s going on inside your veins after you drink a soft drink

See NACCHO Nutrition ,Obesity , Sugar Tax,, Health Promotion 200 + articles published over 6 years and see our policy below

 ” The 2012-13 Health Survey identified that Indigenous adults were 1.6 times as likely to be obese as non-Indigenous Australians, with the prevalence increasing more rapidly in Aboriginal school-aged children.

Overweight and obesity in childhood are important predictors of adult adiposity, increasing the risk of developing a range of medical conditions, each of which is a major cause of morbidity, mortality and health expenditure.

While it is surprisingly clear what needs to be done to improve the health of Indigenous children, recent cuts to Indigenous preventative workforce and nutrition programs throughout Australia have severely reduced the capacity to respond.

Comprehensive primary health care is a key strategy for improving the health of Indigenous Australians and is an important platform from which to address complex health and social issues associated with obesity.

Closing the Gap, including the gap attributable to obesity, requires ensuring the ACCHS sector is resourced to deliver the full range of core services required under a comprehensive and culturally safe model of primary health care.

The effectiveness of ACCHSs has long been recognised, with many able to document better health outcomes than mainstream services for the communities they serve. “

Extract from NACCHO Network Submission to the Select Committee’s Obesity Epidemic in Australia Inquiry. 

Download the full 15 Page submission HERE

Obesity Epidemic in Australia – Network Submission – 6.7.18

Press Release : Study reveals the damaging metabolic effects for inactive, young, obese people who consume soft drink regularly

We know drinking soft drink is bad for the waistline, now a study by Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute researchers provides evidence of the damaging metabolic effects on overweight and obese people who regularly consume soft drink and sit for long periods.

Researchers have quantified the detrimental effects on glucose and lipid metabolism by studying young, obese adults in a ‘real-world’ setting where up to 750ml of soft drink is consumed between meals daily and where prolonged sitting with no activity is the norm.

The results, outlined by PhD candidate Pia Varsamis in the Clinical Nutrition journal, show how habitual soft drink consumption and large periods of sedentary behaviour may set these young adults on the path to serious cardiometabolic diseases such as fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Whilst most studies to date have focused on the relationship between soft drink consumption and obesity, the large amount of added sugars contained in these drinks has additional implications beyond weight control.

Watch TV Interview

Senior author, Professor Bronwyn Kingwell, who heads up the Institute’s Metabolic and Vascular Physiology laboratory, says the acute metabolic effects of soft drink consumption and prolonged sitting identified in this latest study are cause for concern.

“With lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity rising rapidly and sugar sweetened beverages the largest source of added sugars in Western diets, understanding the ‘real world’ health impact is critical in determining ‘real world’ prevention and intervention strategies,” Professor Kingwell says.

She says this study quantified the effects of soft drink consumption compared to water on glucose and lipid metabolism in a context that was reflective of typical daily consumption levels, meal patterns and activity behaviours such as sitting for long periods.

The study, involved 28 overweight or obese adults aged 19–30 years who were habitual soft drink consumers. They participated in two separate experiments on different days drinking soft drink on one and water on the other both mid-morning and mid-afternoon during a 7-hour day of uninterrupted sitting.

Professor Kingwell says the combination of soft drink and prolonged sitting significantly elevated plasma glucose and plasma insulin, while reducing circulating triglycerides and fatty acids which indicates significant suppression of lipid metabolism, particularly in males.

She says the metabolic effects of a regular diet of soft drink combined with extended periods of sitting may contribute to the development of metabolic disease in young people who are overweight or obese, including predisposing men to an elevated risk of fatty liver disease.

“The acute metabolic effects outlined in this study are very worrying and suggest that young, overweight people who engage in this type of lifestyle are setting themselves on a path toward chronic cardiometabolic disease,” Professor Kingwell says. “This highlights significant health implications both for individuals and our healthcare system.”

Part 2 : Here’s what’s going on inside your veins after you drink a soft drink

Orginally published Here

Half an hour after finishing a can of soft drink, your blood sugar has spiked.

So you’re probably feeling pretty good. Your cells have plenty of energy, more than they need.

Maybe that soft drink had some caffeine as well, giving your central nervous system a kick, making you feel excitable, suppressing any tiredness you might have.

But a clever new study, published this week, nicely illustrates that while you’re feeling good, strange things are going on inside your blood vessels – and in the long run they are not good for you.

For this study, 28 obese or overweight young adults agreed to sit in a lab for a whole day while having their blood continuously sampled.

The volunteers ate a normal breakfast, lunch and dinner. At morning tea and afternoon tea, researchers from Melbourne’s Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute gave them a can of soft drink.

Their blood samples revealed exactly what happened next.

Sugar from, say, a chocolate bar is released slowly, as your digestive system breaks it down.

With a can of soft drink, almost no break-down time is needed. The drink’s sugar starts to hit your bloodstream within about 30 minutes. That’s why you get such a big spike.

Your body responds to high levels of blood sugar by producing a hormone called insulin.

Insulin pumps through the bloodstream and tells your cells to suck in as much sugar as they can. The cells then start burning it, and storing what they can’t burn.

That quickly reduces the amount of sugar in the blood, and gives you a burst of energy. So far so good.

But the sugar keeps coming. High levels of blood sugar will quickly damage your blood vessels, so the body keeps making insulin.

In fact, just having two cans of soft drink meant the volunteers’ insulin stayed significantly higher than usual – all day.

After lunch, and another soft drink for afternoon tea, their sugar and insulin levels spiked again.

And, once again, over the next few hours blood sugar dropped but insulin levels stayed stubbornly high – right through to late afternoon, when the study finished.

The study demonstrates that two cans of soft drink is all it takes to give your pancreas – the crucial organ that produces insulin – a serious workout, says Professor Bronwyn Kingwell, the study’s senior author.

Watch Video 

We get more sugar each year from beverages than all the sweet treats you can think of combined.

“If you did this day in, day out, your pancreas would be under considerable stress – and this is how diabetes can develop,” says Professor Kingwell. “Having a little can of soft drink in the morning is going to have lasting effects throughout the day.”

If your diet has too much sugar in it, forcing your body to keep your insulin high all the time, eventually your cells will grow insulin-resistant. That forces the pancreas to make even more insulin, adding to its workload. Eventually, it will burn out.

But something else interesting is happening inside your body as well.

Insulin tells your body to burn sugar. But it also tells it to stop burning fat.

Normally, the body burns a little bit of both at once. But after a soft drink, your insulin stays high all day – so you won’t burn much fat, whether you’re on a diet or not.

One of the study’s participants, Michelle Kneipp, is now trying as hard as she can to kick her soft-drink habit.

She’s switched soft drinks for flavoured sparkling water. “It still tastes like soft drink, and it’s still got the fizz,” she says.

“But it’s hard, because sugar’s a very addictive substance.”

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health : Dr @SandroDemaio presents a five-point policy plan using a lifeSPANS approach to address child obesity in Australia: #NCDs #EnoughNCDs @FAREAustralia @AHPA_AU @SaxInstitute

 

” The answer to obesity will never be in telling people what to do, guilting them for making unhealthier choices in a confusing consumption landscape, or by simply banning things. We also know that education and knowledge will get us only so far.

The real answers lie not even in inspiring populations to make hundreds of healthier decisions each and every day in the face of a seductively obesogenic, social milieu.

If we are to drive long‐term, sustained and scalable change, we must tweak the system to ensure those healthier choices become the path of least resistance—and eventually preferred. And I believe we must focus, initially, on our kids.

It is time for a lifeSPANS approach to addressing obesity in Australia.”

Dr Alessandro Demaio ” A $100 Million question ” see Bio in full Part 2

Download this Paper HERE : Demaio-2018-Health_Promotion_Journal_of_Australia

Listen to Dr Sandro’s childhood obesity Podcast HERE 

  ” The 2012-13 Health Survey identified that Indigenous adults were 1.6 times as likely to be obese as non-Indigenous Australians, with the prevalence increasing more rapidly in Aboriginal school-aged children.

Overweight and obesity in childhood are important predictors of adult adiposity, increasing the risk of developing a range of medical conditions, each of which is a major cause of morbidity, mortality and health expenditure.

While it is surprisingly clear what needs to be done to improve the health of Indigenous children, recent cuts to Indigenous preventative workforce and nutrition programs throughout Australia have severely reduced the capacity to respond.

Comprehensive primary health care is a key strategy for improving the health of Indigenous Australians and is an important platform from which to address complex health and social issues associated with obesity.

Closing the Gap, including the gap attributable to obesity, requires ensuring the ACCHS sector is resourced to deliver the full range of core services required under a comprehensive and culturally safe model of primary health care.

The effectiveness of ACCHSs has long been recognised, with many able to document better health outcomes than mainstream services for the communities they serve. “

Extract from NACCHO Network Submission to the Select Committee’s Obesity Epidemic in Australia Inquiry. 

Download the full 15 Page submission HERE

Obesity Epidemic in Australia – Network Submission – 6.7.18

Compelling populations, individuals or even ourselves to act pre‐emptively on the urgent and massive challenges of tomorrow is notoriously difficult.

The concept is called temporal or future discounting, and it is well documented.1 It is the idea that we prioritise our current comfort and happiness over our future and seemingly distant safety or wellbeing.

This psychological shortcoming plays out in many ways. At the micro level, we may defer until next week what we should do today—that run, drinking more water or the dentist check‐up—as it may not reap benefits for months, or ever. Eventually, we may act on some of these but whether delayed, deferred or denied, it can reap serious health consequences.

At the macro level, it becomes even more problematic. When we combine this “delay what’s beyond tomorrow” phenomenon with short‐term political cycles in the context of systems‐based, slowly evolving and largely invisible future threats, important but not yet imminent issues are not just postponed, but ignored.

Few challenges are a greater threat to the health of Australians, nor better define future discounting, than obesity. At the individual level and in our modern, obesogenic societies, weight gain has become the norm—the biological and social path of least resistance.

Food systems have shifted from a focus on seasonal, fresh and relatively calorie‐poor staples with minimal processing or meat, to an environment where junk foods and processed foods are ubiquitous, heavily advertised, hugely profitable and, for many communities, the only feasible “choice”.

Poor nutrition is now the leading risk factor for disease in our country.2City living has come with benefits, but along with an increasingly automated and digitalised lifestyle, has seen physical activity become something we must seek out, rather than an unavoidable component of our daily lives. Factors such as these have made individual action difficult for most of us and combined with our biology, have contributed to obesity rates more than doubling in Australia since 1980 alone.3

At the policy level, a dangerous, pernicious and unhealthy status quo has evolved over decades. One which sees a population increasingly affected by preventable, chronic disease. One which can only be solved through difficult decisions from politicians and the public to make the short‐term, passive but unhealthy comfort harder; and the long‐term promise of wellbeing more attractive.

One which must see sustained public demand and political commitment for a distant goal and best scenario of nil‐effect, in the face of constant, coordinated and powerful pushback, threats and careful intimidation from largely unprecedented policy counter‐currents.

But opportunities do exist; levers throughout this gridlocked policy landscape that can be utilised to move the obesity agenda forward.

One of those is our kids.

We know that if we cannot prevent obesity in our children, those young Australians will likely never achieve wellbeing.

We know that one in four of our children is overweight or obese and that while 5% of healthy weight kids become obese adults, up to 79% obese children will never realise a healthy weight.45 We know that the school years are a time when major weight gain occurs in our lifecourse and almost no one loses weight as they age.6

Recent evidence suggests early, simple interventions not only reduce weight and improve the health for our youngest kids, but also reduce weight in their parents.78 An important network of effective implementation platforms and primed partners already exist in our schools and teachers around the nation.

Finally, a large (but likely overstated) proportion of Australians may call “nanny state” at even the whiff of effective policies against obesity, but less so if those policies are aimed at our children.

With this in mind, I was recently invited to Canberra to present on how I would spend an extra $100 million each year on preventive health for the nation.

This is the five‐point policy plan I proposed; a lifeSPANS approach to addressing child obesity—and with it, equipping a new generation of Australians to act on tomorrow’s risks, today. This is an evidence‐based package to reduce the major sources of premature deaths, starting early.

1 .SCHOOLS AS PLATFORMS FOR HEALTH

  • $3 million to support the revision and implementation of clear, mandatory guidelines on healthy food in school canteens
  • $3 million to coordinate and support the removal of sales of sugary drinks
  • $13 million to expand food and nutrition programs to remaining primary schools
  • $40 million as $5000‐10 000 means‐tested grants for infrastructure that supports healthy eating and drinking in primary schools
  • $130 million to cover 1.7 million daily school breakfasts for every child at the 6300 primary schools nationally910
  • $140 million left from sugary drink tax revenue for school staffing and programs for nutrition and physical activity

Schools alone cannot solve the child obesity epidemic; however, it is unlikely that child obesity rates can be reversed without strong school‐based policies to support healthy eating and physical activity. Children and adolescents consume 19%‐50% of daily calories at school and spend more time there than in any other environment away from home.11 Evidence suggests that “incentives” are unlikely to result in behaviour change but peer pressure might.12 Therefore, learning among friends offers a unique opportunity to positively influence healthy habits.

Trials have demonstrated both the educational and health benefits of providing free school meals, including increased fruit and vegetable consumption, knowledge of a healthy diet, healthier eating at home and improved school performance. Providing meals to all children supports low‐income families and works to address health inequalities and stigma.10

School vending machines or canteens selling sugary drinks and junk foods further fuel an obesogenic, modern food environment. Sugary drinks are the leading source of added sugar in our diet in Australia and are considered a major individual risk factor for non‐communicable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.13 Removing unhealthy foods and drinks from schools would support children, teachers and parents and send a powerful message to communities about the health harms of these products.

Finally, it is not only about taking things away but also supporting locally driven programs and the school infrastructure to support healthier habits. Drinking fountains, play equipment and canteen hardware could all be supported through small grants aimed at further empowering schools as decisions makers and agents for healthier kids.

2.PRICING THAT’S FAIR TO FAMILIES

  • 20% increase in sugary drinks pricing with phased expansion to fast foods over three years, unlocking approximately $400 million in annual revenue to add to existing $100 million for prevention
  • More than $600 million in annual health savings expected from sugary drinks price increase of 20%
  • $10 million for social marketing campaigns to explain the new policy measures, and benefits to community
  • Compensation package for farmers and small retailers producing and selling sugary drinks (cost unknown but likely small)
  • Such legislation would also support industry to reformulate or reshape product portfolios for long‐term market planning

Today’s food environment sees increased availability of lower cost, processed foods high in salt, fats and added sugars.14 People have less time to prepare meals and are influenced by aggressive food marketing. This leads to food inequality with those from low socioeconomic backgrounds at greater risk from obesity. Obesity increases the risks of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, mental health issues and premature death.15 There are also wider societal and economic costs amounting to an estimated $8.6 billion spent in the health sector alone annually.16

Food prices should be adjusted in relation to nutritional content. Policy makers must shift their pricing focus to integrate the true societal cost of products associated with fiscally burdensome disease. In 2016, a WHO report highlighted that a 20% increase in retail price of sugary drinks lowers consumption as well as obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.17

The landmark peso per litre sugar tax from Mexico highlighted the behaviour change potential such policies possess. Sales of higher priced beverages decreased substantially in subsequent years. Importantly, the most significant decreases occurred among the poorest households.18 For Australia, a similar approach is estimated to lead to $609 million in annual health savings and raise $400 million in direct revenue.16

These legislative approaches should be framed as an expansion of our existing GST and would encourage industry to reformulate products, positively influencing the food environment.131517

This is not a sin tax or ban, it is an effective policy and pricing that is fair to families. It is also backed by evidence and supported by the public.19

3. ADVERTISING THAT SUPPORTS OUR KIDS

  • End all junk food marketing to children, and between 6 am and 10 pm on television
  • End the use of cartoons on any food or drink packaging
  • $30 million to replace junk food sponsorship of sport and arts events with healthy messaging and explanation of lifeSPANS policy approach
  • Phased expansion of advertising ban over three years to all non‐essential foods (GST language)

The food industry knows that marketing works, otherwise they would not spend almost $400 million annually on advertisements in Australia alone.20

Three of four commercial food advertisements are for unhealthy products and evidence suggests that food advertising triggers cognitive processes that influence our food choices, similar to those seen in addiction. Studies also demonstrate that food commercials including the use of cartoons influence the amount of calories that children consume and the findings are particularly pronounced in overweight children.21

Fast food advertising at sporting and arts events further reinforces a dangerous and confusing notion that sees the direct association between societal heroes or elite athleticism and the unhealthiest of foods.

Ending junk food advertising to children, including any use of cartoons in the advertisement of food and drinks, is an important step to support our kids.

4.NUTRITION LABELLING THAT MAKES SENSE TO EVERYONE

  • Further strengthen existing labelling approaches, including mandatory systems

Nutritional information can be confusing for parents, let alone children. Food packaging often lists nutritional information in relation to portion size meaning a product with a higher figure may simply be larger rather than less healthy. While the Health Star Rating system, implemented in 2014, has made substantive progress, it remains voluntary.22

Efforts should be made to strengthen the usability of existing efforts and make consistent, evidence‐based and effective labelling mandatory. Such developments would also provide stronger incentives for manufacturers to reformulate products, reducing sugar, fat and salt content.

Clearer and consistent information would help create a more enabling food environment for families to make informed choices about their food.

5.SUPPLY CHAIN SYSTEMS AS SOLUTION‐CATALYSTS

  • Utilise procurement and supply chains of schools and public institutions to drive demand for healthier foods
  • Leverage the purchasing power of large organisations to reduce the costs of healthy foods for partner organisations and communities

Coordinated strategies are needed to support the availability of lower cost, healthy foods for all communities. Cities and large organisations such as schools and hospitals could collaborate to purchase food as collectives, thus driving demand, building market size and improving economies of scale.23

By leveraging collective purchasing power, institutions can catalyse the availability of sustainable and healthy foods to also support wider, positive food environment change.

Part 2

Dr Alessandro Demaio, or Sandro, trained and worked as a medical doctor at The Alfred Hospital in Australia.

While practicing as a doctor he completed a Master in Public Health including fieldwork to prevent diabetes through Buddhist Wats in Cambodia. In 2010, he relocated to Denmark where he completed a PhD with the University of Copenhagen, focusing on non-communicable diseases. His doctoral research was based in Mongolia, working with the Ministry of Health.

He designed, led and reported a national epidemiological survey, sampling more than 3500 households. Sandro held a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard Medical School from 2013 to 2015, and was assistant professor and course director in global health at the Copenhagen School of Global Health, in Denmark.

He established and led the PLOS blog Global Health, and served on the founding Advisory Board of the EAT Foundation: the global, multi-stakeholder platform for food, health and environmental sustainability.

To date, he has authored over 23 scientific publications and more than 85 articles and blogs. In his pro bono work, Dr Demaio co-founded NCDFREE, a global social movement against noncommunicable diseases using social media, short film and leadership events – crowdfunded, it reached more than 2.5 million people in its first 18 months.

Then, in 2015, he founded festival21, assembling and leading a team of knowledge leaders in staging a massive and unprecedented, free celebration of community, food, culture and future in his hometown Melbourne. In November 2015, Sandro joined the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at the World Health Organization’s global headquarters, as Medical Officer for noncommunicable conditions and nutrition.

From 2017, he is also co-host of the ABC television show Ask the Doctor – an innovative and exploratory factual medical series broadcasting weekly across Australia. Sandro is currently fascinated by systems-innovation and leadership; impact in a post-democracy; and the commercial determinants of disease. He also loves to cook.

NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health #Nutrition #Obesity : @IndigenousPHAA The #AFL ladder of sponsorships such as soft drinks @CocaColaAU and junk food @McDonalds_AU endangers the health of our children

 “Aboriginal and Non- Aboriginal kids are being inundated with the advertising of alcohol, junk food and gambling through AFL sponsorship deals according to a new study.

With obesity and excessive drinking remaining a significant problem in our communities, it’s time for the AFL ladder of unhealthy sponsorship (see below) to end,

Children under the age of eight are particularly vulnerable to advertising because they lack the maturity and mental skills to evaluate the messages. Therefore, in the case of the AFL, they begin to associate unhealthy products with their favourite sport and players

We need to ask ourselves why Australia’s most popular winter sport is serving as a major advertising platform for soft drink, beer, wine, burgers and meat pies. It’s sending the wrong message to Australians that somehow these unhealthy foods and drinks are linked to the healthy activity of sport,”

Says the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA).

Read all NACCHO Aboriginal Health Nutrition / Obestity articles over 6 years HERE 

In the study published this week in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Australian researchers looked at the prevalence of sponsorship by alcohol, junk food and gambling companies on AFL club websites and on AFL player uniforms.

The findings were used to make an ‘AFL Sponsorship Ladder’, a ranking of AFL clubs in terms of their level of unhealthy sponsorships, with those at the top of the ladder having the highest level of unhealthy sponsors.

The study clearly demonstrated that Australia’s most popular spectator sport is saturated with unhealthy advertising.

Download PDF Copy of report NACCHO Unhealthy sponsors of sport

Ainslie Sartori, one of the authors involved in the research confirmed, “After reviewing the sponsorship deals of AFL clubs, we found that 88% of clubs are sponsored by unhealthy food and beverage companies. A third of AFL clubs are also involved in business partnerships with gambling companies.”

Recommendation 

Sponsorship offers companies an avenue to expose children and young people to their brand, encouraging a connection with that brand.

The AFL could reinforce healthy lifestyle choices by shifting the focus away from the visual presence of unhealthy sponsorship, while taking steps to ensure that clubs remain commercially viable.

Policy makers are encouraged to consider innovative health promotion strategies and work
with sporting clubs and codes to ensure healthy messages are prominent

 

The study noted that children are often the targets of AFL advertising. This is despite World Health Organization recommendations that children’s settings should be free of unhealthy food promotions and branding (including through sport) due to the known risk it poses to their diet and chances of developing obesity.

PHAA CEO Terry Slevin commented, “When Australian kids see their sports heroes wearing a uniform plastered with certain brands, they inevitably start to associate these brands with the player they look up to and with the positive and healthy experience of the sport.”

He added, “The AFL is in a unique position to positively influence the health of Australian kids through banning sponsorship by alcohol, junk food and gambling companies. It could instead reinforce the importance of a healthy lifestyle for them.”

“Australian health policy makers need to consider innovative health promotion strategies and work together with sport clubs and codes to ensure that unhealthy advertising is not a feature. We successfully removed tobacco advertising from sport and we can do it with junk food and gambling too,” Mr Slevin said.

The recently released Sport 2030 plan rightly identifies sport as a positive vehicle to promote good health. But elite “corporate sport” plays a role of bypassing restrictions aimed at reducing exposure of children to unhealthy product marketing.

“The evidence is clear – it’s time for Australia to phase out all unhealthy sponsorship of sport,” Mr Slevin conclude

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #COAG : Indigenous Health Leadership , Ministers @GregHuntMP @KenWyattMP and Australia’s Health Ministers gather in #AliceSprings to shine a spotlight on #Indigenous health

 

“Australia’s Health Ministers have gathered in Alice Spring to shine a spotlight on Indigenous health, almost 10 years after the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) approved Closing the Gap targets to achieve health equality for First Nations peoples.

While we can reflect on progress – our people, on average, are living longer with fewer dying from chronic conditions – it is equally important to focus on our failure to close the gap in life expectancy, which remains about 10 years.

For sustainable change, however, local family warriors must step up, be respected, acknowledged and encouraged.

The Hon Ken Wyatt Indigenous Health Minister see Part 1 Below

Investigation and investment where it is needed is critical to delivering better health outcomes for First Nations Peoples, to protect lives and save lives

Today we visited the Purple House Renal Clinic in Alice Springs and have seen first-hand the debilitating effects of poor kidney health.

Kidney disease disproportionately affects Indigenous Australians — research has shown that almost one in five (18 per cent) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 18 had indicators of chronic kidney disease.

I am delighted that we can announce $327,192 for Monash University to develop a point-of-care test for the diagnosis and management of chronic kidney disease.

Social and emotional well-being was another critical matter for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, especially youth.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has found that the single largest contributor to ill health amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is mental health and substance use disorders,” said Minister Hunt.

Five projects across five different states will examine social and emotional well-being issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

They will undertake culturally-informed research looking at the influencing factors, mental health and life-coaching, and fostering wellness.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt see full Press release Part 2

Part 1 Continued from opening quote

For over 65,000 years, First Nations people thrived without a plethora of organisations. We were child, family and community-centred.

Responsibility and authority revolved around a woman, with her key roles as the mother and protector, and equally, around a man, the father and family shield.

This year, I am focusing on five areas – renal health, rheumatic heart disease (RHD), avoidable blindness, avoidable deafness and crusted scabies.

First Nations people experience 7.3 times the burden of chronic kidney disease than other Australians. In the Northern Territory, RHD is 37 times more prevalent and, overall, we endure three times the rate of vision impairment.

Our children suffer, on average, 32 months of hearing loss compared with three months for other Australian children, while remote northern communities have the world’s highest rates of crusted scabies.

We are losing too many lives and not realising the potential of too many more.

In many remote locations, doctors and health workers are joined by fly-in fly-out health practitioners, providing specialist services.

However, we must ensure a local army of individuals on the ground is empowered to monitor for signs of illness.

We need home-based heroes, family warriors, as they were in times past – and still are in functional families.

They need to understand that infections such as skin sores can be precursors to RHD, kidney failure and crusted scabies.

We are not going to fully transform the health of those who are struggling, until they understand with pride and responsibility, the culture that perpetuated healthy lives for thousands of years.

Our mothers and fathers, uncles, aunts and grandparents are the first protectors of our children.

Now extended to 136 communities, the Better Start to Life program is proving the power of engaging with and supporting young parents to understand their responsibilities.

The Turnbull government has invested significantly in these areas but the record $3.9 billion committed to Indigenous health over the next four years will only ever be part of the currency of change.

It’s now time to highlight the heroes within our families, to move from disempowerment to empowerment, away from a deficit model.

I encourage every mother, father, uncle, aunt and Elder to become a warrior for health, joining in and taking responsibility for their own health and the health of their families.

Today we visited the Purple House Renal Clinic in Alice Springs and have seen first-hand the debilitating effects of poor kidney health.

The Government has committed $23.2 million through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to 28 new projects, and has launched a NHMRC Road Map 3 to help chart the direction for Indigenous health and medical research investment over the next ten years.

New research investment will include targeted renal, cancer and social and emotional wellbeing projects aimed at improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.

The five projects together form the first of a series of targeted calls for research by the NHMRC to address Indigenous health priorities. Other calls will include healthy ageing and nutrition.

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, said the new research projects would help to strengthen work already underway to curb chronic disease.

“The renal point-of-care test will complement the Renal Health Road Map that is currently being compiled,” Minister Wyatt said.

“This exciting new research is focused on making a difference on the ground, from reducing smoking during pregnancy and boosting cancer care, to combating diabetic blindness and improving diets.”

“The five social and emotional wellbeing projects are especially welcome, as we continue working with local communities to reduce the rate of suicide.”

Other key research projects announced today include point-of-care testing for blood-borne diseases and sexually transmitted infections, reducing incarceration rates of young women, improving prisoner mental health, burns care, lung health, scabies testing and reducing unborn baby deaths.

The direction of future First Nations research will be informed by the NHMRC’s Road Map 3, which will include a yearly report card and a commitment to spend at least 5% of annual NHMRC funding on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and medical research.

“Most importantly, the NHMRC Road Map 3 was developed in consultation with communities, First Nations researchers and the broader health and medical research sector to address Indigenous health issues and encourage and strengthen the capacity of Indigenous researchers, now and into the future,” said Minister Wyatt.

The NHMRC has today also released the Ethical conduct in research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and communities: Guidelines for researchers and stakeholders as well as Keeping Research on Track II.

The Guidelines provide a set of principles to ensure that research is safe, respectful, responsible, high-quality and of benefit to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health celebrates #AMAFDW18 AMA Family Doctor Week : @amapresident Speech to @PressClubAust #NPC Includes support #ulurustatement #prevention investment #obesity #Chronic Disease funding #MentalHealth

 

” I am very pleased that one of my first announcements as AMA President was the AMA endorsement of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The Uluru Statement expresses the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with regard to self-determination and status in their own country.

The AMA has for many years supported Indigenous recognition in the Australian Constitution.

The Uluru Statement is another significant step in making that recognition a reality.

The AMA is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

It is simply unacceptable that Australia, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, cannot solve a health crisis affecting fewer than three per cent of its citizens.”

AMA President Dr Tony Bartone speaking at the National Press Club 25 July 2018

 ” This week just happens to be AMA Family Doctor Week – a tribute to hardworking GPs.

GPs of Australia, I salute you. We all salute you.

Your hard work and dedication is highly valued. The AMA will always support you and promote you.

Your GP – your family doctor – will ensure that your health needs are met throughout all stages of your life.

Be it immunisation, preventative health care, age specific medical checks, chronic disease management, or aged care, the life long relationship with your GP underpins continuous and appropriate care.

This is especially the case for patients who are from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds. For them, GPs truly are their trusted health advocates.”

 ” The burden of chronic disease in Australia is significant.

Chronic disease is responsible for around 83 per cent of premature deaths and 66 per cent of the burden of disease.

Chronic disease has a significant impact on the health system, but the reality is that most of these conditions can be prevented.

It simply makes enormous sense to invest in prevention.

Taxes collected from tobacco and alcohol excise generate around $16 billion each year for the Government.

In return, total Government spending on prevention is around $2 billion a year, which equates to about $89 per person.

If we are to reduce the impact of chronic disease in Australia, all our governments must invest more in prevention.

Tackling obesity is a priority.

Doctors are well placed to identify and support patients who are overweight or obese. Two thirds of adults are either overweight or obese. ”

Full Speech : Health reform: Improving the patient journey

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, and pay my respects to their elders past and present.

It is a humbling experience to be elected President of such a proud and respected organisation as the AMA.

It is an equally humbling experience to speak here at the National Press Club in Canberra. I thank the Press Club for this opportunity.

I am a GP, and I have been in practice in the northern suburbs of Melbourne for more than 30 years.

Some of you may know that I was inspired to become a GP by watching my own family doctor, who cared for my ill father when I was growing up.

Even now, my mother reflects on the care and dedication my family GP displayed in caring for her family. It’s no surprise that he became an early mentor in my professional life.

I have seen it all as I have looked after the health of my community and my patients, including generations of the same families.

I like to think that my experience has given me some credibility in knowing what works and what doesn’t work in the health system, especially in primary care.

My overarching concern has always been the patient journey – ensuring that people get the right care at the right time in the right place by the right practitioner.

The priorities for me are always universal access to care, and affordability.

Today, I will share my views on what can be done to make our great health system even better – how to improve the patient journey.

I will also introduce you to some of my patients, and reflect on the barriers in their access to timely care, to further illustrate our concerns.

General practice and primary care reform

On the day I was elected, I made it very clear that one of the hallmarks of my Presidency would be stridently advocating for significant investment in general practice.

This week just happens to be AMA Family Doctor Week – a tribute to hardworking GPs.

see intro for text

However, there is something really crook about how GPs have been treated by successive Governments.

They have paid lip service to the critical role GPs play in our health system, often borne out of ignorance and often in a misguided attempt to control costs.

General practice has been the target of continual funding cuts over many years. These cuts have systematically eaten away at the capacity of general practice to deliver the highest quality care for our patients.

They threaten the viability of many practices.

I talk to my GP members regularly, both metropolitan and rural.

The message is simple – some are at a tipping point and have a very bleak view of the future.

They see general practice becoming increasingly corporatised, burdened with more red tape, and GPs are less able to spend the necessary time with patients.

This is not the future that GPs want to see.

This is not the future that our patients want to see.

We can and must avoid these bleak predictions, but it requires significant real and immediate investment from the Government with a clear pathway to long-term reform.

Let me be very clear about this: we must put general practice front and centre in future health policy development.

We have seen too many mistakes. Too many poor policy decisions.

Despite the Government’s best intentions – and lots of goodwill within the profession – the Health Care Homes trial and implementation failed to win the support of GPs or patients.

Instead of real investment, the Trial largely shifted existing buckets of money around.

It has fallen well short of its practice enrolment targets, and it looks like only a small fraction of the targeted 65,000 patients will sign up.

There is no doubt that the challenge of transforming general practice was severely underestimated by policy makers. At least with this model.

But general practice still needs transformation and rejuvenation to meet growing patient demand and to keep GPs working in general practice.

The AMA has a plan for reform of general practice and primary care.

It is patient-centred and focuses on better access to long-term continuous quality care and managing patients more effectively in the community.

It takes the best elements of the ‘medical home’ concept and adapts them to the Australian context.

It is a plan that will require upfront and meaningful new investment, in anticipation of long-term savings in downstream health costs.

In the short term, the AMA plan for general practice will involve:

  • significant changes to Chronic Disease funding, including a process that strengthens the relationship between a patient and their usual GP, and encourages continuity of care;
  • cutting the bureaucracy that makes it difficult for GPs to refer patients to allied health services;
  • formal recognition in GP funding arrangements of the significant non-face-to-face workload involved in caring for patients with complex and chronic disease;
  • additional funding to support enhanced care coordination for those patients with chronic disease who are at risk of unplanned hospital admission – a similar model to the Coordinated Veterans Care Program funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs;
  • a properly funded Quality Improvement Incentive under the Practice Incentive Program – the PIP;
  • changes to Medicare that improve access to after-hours GP care through a patient’s usual general practice;
  • support for patients with chronic wounds to access best practice wound care through their general practice;
  • better access to GP care for patients in residential aged care; and
  • annual indexation of current block funding streams that have not changed for many years … including those that provide funding to support the employment of nursing and allied health professionals in general practice.

In the longer term, we need to look at moving to a more blended model of funding for general practice.

While retaining our proven fee-for-service model at its core, the new funding model must have an increased emphasis on other funding streams, which are designed to support a high performing primary care system.

This will allow for increasing the capability and improving the infrastructure supporting general practice to allow it to become the real engine room of our health system.

It is about scaling up our GP-led patient-centred multidisciplinary practice teams to better provide the envelope of health care around the patient in their journey through the health system.

A good example is the Blacktown Hospital Diabetes Outpatient Clinic in New South Wales.

This Clinic has a waiting time of less than a week because the service is distributed to its catchment GPs with the appropriate funding and support for both personnel and infrastructure.

This is a small example, but a significant one when you consider the scale and prevalence of diabetes across Australia, let alone the western suburbs of Sydney, and the average access times for outpatient hospital clinics.

We cannot continue to do things the way we always have.

The bulk-billing rate should not be the metric by which we judge the performance of general practice.

Chronic conditions have become more prevalent in Australia. The ones causing most concern are:

  • arthritis;
  • asthma;
  • back pain and problems;
  • cancer;
  • cardiovascular disease;
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
  • diabetes; and
  • mental health conditions.

One in two people now report having at least one of these eight common chronic conditions.

These conditions account for around 60 per cent of the total disease burden, and they contribute to nearly 90 per cent of deaths in Australia.

We must reshape our primary care system to meet these challenges.

We must put in place the funding support that general practice needs to better manage patients in the community – and keep people out of hospital.

Our plan is a smarter and more sustainable blueprint … a better plan for general practice. A better plan for Australians.

Public hospitals

We also need a better plan for public hospitals.

In an election year, voters tend to focus very closely on public hospitals when they are comparing health policies.

Public hospitals are a critical part of our health system. They are highly visible. They are greatly loved institutions in the community. They are vote changers.

The doctors, nurses, and other staff who work in our public hospitals are some of the most skilled in the world.

In 2016-17, public hospitals provided more than six and a half million episodes of admitted patient care. They managed 92 per cent of emergency admissions.

If the state of general practice is crook, then our public hospitals are on permanent code yellow.

Despite their importance, and despite our reliance on our hospitals to save lives and improve quality of life, they have been chronically underfunded for too long.

Between 2010-11 and 2015-16, average annual real growth in Federal Government recurrent funding for public hospitals has been virtually stagnant – a mere 2.8 per cent.

The AMA welcomes that, between 2014-15 and 2015-16, the Federal Government boosted its recurrent public hospital expenditure by 8.4 per cent.

But a one-off modest boost from a very low base is not enough.

I deal with the results of stressed public hospitals every day and manage the impact it has on my patients.

Ollie is a patient with well-controlled Parkinson’s disease. He now also has a recently diagnosed lung cancer, which has been caught early, resected, and appropriately managed.

But he has been denied care for his resulting poor control of his Parkinson’s disease in the same hospital’s neurology outpatient department and referred back to me.

I have been advised that I must source an alternative option for his neurological care.

Another of my patients, Carlo, is a victim of the never ending Federal-State buck passing when it comes to health.

Having developed poorly controlled reflux and having been referred to the local hospital outpatient department for a gastro consult, Carlo was referred back to me.

I was advised that I had to arrange a referral at the same hospital’s diagnostic imaging service for a possible coordination and swallowing problem, which ultimately proved correct.

He was then referred back to the gastroenterology department to manage his newly diagnosed oesophageal condition.

Barbara is another very common example of the funding chaos.

She is a very active 68-year-old lady who was troubled by severe osteoarthritis of the knee for many years. She was placed on a waiting list for surgery two years ago.

She has had to attend our practice regularly for pain management and supportive referrals for physiotherapy, while I continued to manage the consequences of her inability to lose weight due to her exercise restrictions and worsening diabetes and blood pressure profile.

She has just finally had her knee joint replaced.

These are the experiences of everyday patients.

They underpin the troubling headlines that came from the AMA’s 2018 Public Hospital Report Card. Our hospitals are stretched to the limit.

Likewise, the AMA’s Safe Hours Audit is a window into the lived experience of dedicated doctors, struggling to deliver quality care in over-crowded, under-funded hospitals.

But instead of helping the hospitals improve safety and quality, governments decided to financially punish hospitals for poor safety events.

There is no evidence to show that financial penalties work.

Health care is complex. Not all patient complications can be avoided.

The 2020-25 hospital funding agreement does little to improve the situation.

Funding levels stay the same, but public hospitals will have to do more with it to help coordinate patient care post-discharge.

The AMA supports better discharge planning and integrated care, especially for patients with complex and chronic disease.

But this will cost money – and public hospitals need extra funding.

The AMA calls on the major parties to boost funding for public hospitals beyond that outlined in the next agreement.

There must be a plan to lift public hospitals out of their current funding crisis, which is putting doctors and patients at risk.

Governments must stop penalising hospitals for adverse patient safety events.

We need policies to fully fund hospitals. We must help them improve patient safety and build their internal capacity to deliver high value care in the medium to long term.

They must link up and work with primary care to deliver better coordinated care.

I note that Labor has pledged an extra $2.8 billion for public hospitals.

I expect that the Coalition will match that as the election draws nearer.

They do not want another Medi-scare style campaign.

Medical care for older Australians

Older Australians are voters, too.

Aged care was, until very recently, one of the highest profile segments of the health system – but for all the wrong reasons.

It is now emerging as an area in need of significant reform as the population ages and lives longer.

Older Australians all too frequently do not have the same access to medical care as other age groups – a longstanding result of inadequate funding in the aged care system.

This inequity will likely only grow as the Australian population ages with more complex, chronic medical conditions requiring more medical attention than ever before.

We have witnessed numerous consultations and reviews.

Enough! Now is the time for action.

There is already sufficient information to underpin the final recommendations. It is simply unfair and unjust to delay this any further.

An increase in funding for GP visits to aged care facilities would result in many savings, including from reduced ambulance transfers to hospital emergency departments.

Changes to after-hours care remuneration must consider services that are currently provided under ‘urgent’ item numbers to patients in aged care facilities.

We also need to ensure that the critical role that nurses play in caring for older Australians is recognised in those facilities.

The AMA wants to see Medicare rebates that adequately cover the time that doctors spend with the patient assessing and diagnosing their condition and providing medical care.

We want new telehealth Medicare items that compensate GPs, and other medical specialists, for the time spent organising and coordinating services for the patient.

This includes the time that they spend with the patient’s family and carers to plan and manage the patient’s care and treatment.

There must be funding for the recruitment and retention of quality, appropriately trained aged care staff.

And we must reverse the decline in the proportion of Registered Nurses in aged care.

The AMA Aged Care Survey, released today, shows that AMA members who work in aged care have identified the shortage of Registered Nurses – who should be available 24 hours a day – as the biggest priority for aged care reform.

The survey also shows that one in three doctors are planning to cut back on, or completely end, their visits to patients in aged care facilities over the next two years.

This is largely because the Medicare rebates are inadequate for the amount of time and work involved.

The AMA will ensure that aged care gets the attention and profile it deserves in the election campaign.

Private health insurance:

Private health insurance has been in the headlines for much of the past year – again, for all the wrong reasons.

The AMA has always called for a simpler and fairer private health insurance system.

Without the private system, the public system would likely collapse.

But we cannot expect the private system to thrive – or even survive – if there is not value in insurance policies.

Patients are smart – they know there is no point outlaying thousands of dollars every year if the coverage isn’t there.

Affordability means very little without value.

We are clearly at a crisis point in private health insurance. And the Government knows it.

Hence the latest Review, and the recent announcement by the Minister of new categories of policies … and greater transparency.

We support the concept of developing Gold, Silver, and Bronze insurance categories.

We can’t expect consumers to understand the many different definitions, the carve outs, and exclusions of some 70,000 policy variations.

Australians want reasonable and simple things from their insurance.

They want coverage.

They want a choice of the practitioner, and a choice of the hospital.

They want treatment when they need it.

We can’t have patients finding out they aren’t covered after the event, or when they require treatment and it’s all too late.

To that end, we have been very clear – we don’t support the use of restrictions in Gold, Silver, and Bronze.

Restrictions lead people to believe they are covered, when in reality they are exposed to additional costs.

We don’t support junk policies. If a Basic policy category doesn’t provide much coverage, that should be made crystal clear.

We don’t support dismantling community rating. This must be protected to maintain equity of access to private health treatment.

When the objective is to support a strong private health sector to take pressure off the public sector, it makes no sense to financially discourage the patients who are most likely to need access to private health.

We support standard clinical definitions. Whatever is involved for coverage for heart conditions should not vary between insurers and policies.

I urge the Government to continue to work with the Colleges to ensure that these definitions are robust.

There is increasing corporatisation of private health and the market power is shifting in favour of private health insurers.

Insurers, whether private or via Medicare, cannot determine the provision of treatment in Australia.

They cannot and must not interfere with the clinical judgement of medical practitioners.

Australians do not support a US-style managed care health system. Neither does the AMA.

One area we are disappointed with in the recent announcements is pregnancy cover.

It does not make sense to us, as clinicians, to have pregnancy cover in a higher level of insurance only.

Many pregnancies are unplanned – meaning people are caught out underinsured when pregnancy is restricted to high-end policies.

Pregnancy is a major reason that the younger population considers taking up private health insurance.

They are less likely to be able to afford the higher-level policies. We need to make sure it is within reach.

I having female reproductive services at a different level to pregnancy coverage is, to us, problematic, and will leave a lot of people caught out.

There will be much more to talk about as the private health reforms are finalised and bedded down.

Mental Health

As a suburban GP who sees the whole range of health ailments and conditions, an area of special interest to me is mental health.

I do not think the unique role and special skills of GPs are used enough at the front line of mental health care.

The AMA earlier this year called for a national, overarching mental health “architecture”, and proper investment in both prevention and treatment of mental illnesses.

Almost one in two Australian adults – that is more than seven million people – will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.

Almost every Australian will experience the effects of mental illness in a family member, friend, or work colleague.

The statistics are startling. For example:

  • More than half a million children and adolescents, aged four to 17, experienced mental health disorders in 2012-13.
  • Australians living with schizophrenia die 25 years earlier than the general population, mainly due to poor heart health.

And yet mental health and psychiatric care are grossly underfunded.

Strategic leadership is needed to integrate all components of mental health prevention and care.

For mental health consumers and their families, navigating the system and finding the right care at the right time can be difficult and frustrating.

There is no vision of what the mental health system will look like in the future.

Poor access to acute beds for major illness leads to extended delays in emergency departments.

Poor access to community care leads to delayed or failed discharges from hospitals.

And poor funding of community services makes it harder to access and coordinate prevention, support services, and early intervention.

Significant investment is urgently needed to reduce the deficits in care, fragmentation, poor coordination, and access to effective care.

We have repeatedly called for support for carers of people with mental illness, which is often the result of necessity, not choice.

Access to respite care is vital for many people with mental illness and their families, who are the ones who bear the largest burden of care.

Indigenous health

I am very pleased that one of my first announcements as AMA President was the AMA endorsement of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The Uluru Statement expresses the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with regard to self-determination and status in their own country.

The AMA has for many years supported Indigenous recognition in the Australian Constitution.

The Uluru Statement is another significant step in making that recognition a reality.

The AMA is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

It is simply unacceptable that Australia, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, cannot solve a health crisis affecting fewer than three per cent of its citizens.

Prevention

There is not enough time today to cover all the issues I would like to cover in one speech.

I could deliver a whole speech on each of the following topics – medical workforce, rural health, medical research, genetic testing, e-cigarettes and vaping, opioids, medicinal cannabis, scope of practice, asylum seeker health, the NDIS, or palliative care, to name just a few.

I could probably manage a few words about the My Health Record, too. No doubt there will be questions about that.

But I have to talk to you about prevention, if only briefly.

The burden of chronic disease in Australia is significant.

Chronic disease is responsible for around 83 per cent of premature deaths and 66 per cent of the burden of disease.

Chronic disease has a significant impact on the health system, but the reality is that most of these conditions can be prevented.

It simply makes enormous sense to invest in prevention.

Taxes collected from tobacco and alcohol excise generate around $16 billion each year for the Government.

In return, total Government spending on prevention is around $2 billion a year, which equates to about $89 per person.

This amounts to a measly 1.34 per cent of all health spending. This is considerably less than comparable countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

If we are to reduce the impact of chronic disease in Australia, all our governments must invest more in prevention.

Tackling obesity is a priority.

Doctors are well placed to identify and support patients who are overweight or obese. Two thirds of adults are either overweight or obese.

The evidence shows that advice to lose weight given by a doctor increases the motivation to lose weight. It also increases engagement in weight loss behaviours.

But the support and advice from doctors can only achieve so much.

Population level measures are needed. We need to see action on a sugar tax, banning junk food advertising to kids, and improving urban planning to help get people moving and active.

Governments have the tools to implement these measures. A sugar tax would be a good start.

In closing, I know the challenges ahead for the health system.

I will dedicate my Presidency to improving health policy so that we have a system that delivers the best possible care to our patients.

The AMA will be a very strong and loud advocate.

There is nothing like a Federal election to help our political leaders share the public’s interest in good health policy.

The election will happen within twelve months, possibly this year.

Along with the members of the National Press Club, the AMA will be watching the political events of this weekend and the coming months with very close interest.