Health round-up: Childhood obesity, cancer and HPV vaccinations

Richard Laycock 12 October 2017 NEWS

Small child eats fast food

A weekly round-up of Australia's latest healthcare news.

Childhood obesity on the rise worldwide

The rate of childhood and adolescent obesity is up nearly tenfold over the last four decades, according to a report led by Imperial College London and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The study, published in The Lancet, analysed the body mass index (BMI) of 31.5 million people aged 5 to 19 and found the rate of obesity for those in this age bracket had increased from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016.

Young men saw their obesity rate skyrocket from 6 million in 1975 to 74 million in 2016, and young women saw their obesity rate rise from 5 million in 1975 to 50 million in 2016.

Imperial’s School of Public Health and lead author Professor Majid Ezzati said that while obesity has plateaued in high-income countries, obesity was on the rise in low- and middle-income countries.

"The trend predicts a generation of children and adolescents growing up obese and at greater risk of diseases, like diabetes," Professor Ezzati said in a statement.

Living longer is a double-edged sword

Those living in "better off" countries have a higher incidence of cancer, according to researchers from the University of Adelaide.

The researchers found that due to modern medicine, people in the better off countries were surviving cancer and passing on cancer genes to the next generation.

"Besides the obvious benefits that modern medicine gives, it also brings with it an unexpected side-effect: allowing genetic material to be passed from one generation to the next that predisposes people to have poor health, such as type 1 diabetes or cancer," said Professor Henneberg in a statement.

The researchers looked at the incidence of various cancers and compared the rates in the 10 best and the 10 worst countries. They found that the rates of cancer were greater in the best countries.

Cancer type Increased incidence factor
Testicular 14x
Lung 12x
Skin melanoma 10x
Brain 6.5x
Pancreatic 5.1x
Prostate 3.5x
Leukaemia 3.5x
Breast 2.7x
Ovarian 2x

New Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine free for young Aussies

A new comprehensive and effective HPV vaccine is going to be available to young Australians for free starting in 2018.

The new vaccine, Gardasil 9, protects against nine strains of HPV and will be administered through school-based programs.

Gardasil 9 will be given to boys aged 12 and 13 years old and to girls when they are in years 7 or 8.

What else is happening?

Researchers from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) are teaming up with QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and Mater Centre for Neurosciences in an effort to develop treatments for those dealing with drug-resistant epilepsy.

"Our work will secure improved health outcomes for patients and make it easier for doctors to diagnose and treat chronic seizures, with fewer negative side-effects," said QIMR Berghofer project leader Professor Michael Breakspear in a statement.

Each week our round-up offers a summary of the latest developments impacting Australian healthcare and most importantly, you, the consumer. Check in every Thursday to find out what's happening in health.

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