Health round-up: Online sperm donors, ending obesity and antibiotics

Richard Laycock 21 September 2017

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

Online sperm donation study

Men are not worried about family, friends or donation risks when they choose to donate their sperm online according to a world-first study from Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

“Globally more and more men and women are stepping away from clinical (medical) sperm donation environments and choosing to find each other through online connection websites such as the UK-based PrideAngel through which we conducted our study,” said behavioural economist at QUT Stephen Whyte in a statement.

The study found that the proliferation of connection websites have facilitated this change.

“Connection websites provide a setting in which men and women can communicate directly, reducing financial burdens and barriers that have existed previously. It also allows the men and women involved to freely negotiate their preferred donation and parenting arrangements," said Whyte.

Researchers found that this less clinical method of donation provided both the donor and the recipient with more information and allowed for better communication between the two parties.

Push to stop obesity in Australia

On Tuesday 19 September 2017, 34 leading health groups banded together to call the government into action over Australia's obesity epidemic.

The group led by Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) and Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE) issued a report, Tipping the Scales: Australian Obesity Prevention Consensus, in which it outlined ways in which the government can reduce the strain obesity places on the Australian economy.

The report highlighted eight areas which it sees as key in winning the war on obesity:

  1. A 20% tax on sugary drinks
  2. Develop and fund a comprehensive national active travel strategy
  3. Develop and monitor national diet, physical activity and weight guidelines
  4. Establish a national obesity taskforce
  5. Funding for weight-related education campaigns
  6. Mandatory Health Star Rating by July 2019
  7. Restrictions on TV junk food advertising during children's programming
  8. Set clear food reformulation targets

“63% of Australian adults and 27% of our children are overweight or obese. This is not surprising when you look at our environment – our kids are bombarded with advertising for junk food, high-sugar drinks are cheaper than water, and sugar and saturated fat are hiding in so-called ‘healthy’ foods. Making a healthy choice has never been more difficult,” OPC Executive Manager, Jane Martin, said in an issued statement.

WHO report finds world is running out of antibiotics

A study released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found that there is a lack of new antibiotics to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.

"Antimicrobial resistance is a global health emergency that will seriously jeopardise progress in modern medicine," said Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The WHO report outlined 12 classes of priority pathogens that are increasingly resistant to antibiotics on the market. These pathogens are responsible for common ailments such as pneumonia or urinary tract infections, which is why there is such an urgent need for new treatments.

"Pharmaceutical companies and researchers must urgently focus on new antibiotics against certain types of extremely serious infections that can kill patients in a matter of days because we have no line of defence," said Director of the Department of Essential Medicines at WHO, Dr Suzanne Hill.


What else is happening?

Researchers at the University of Adelaide may have found a link between your desire to knock back a couple of beers each night and your brain's immune system.

The research conducted on laboratory mice found they could turn off the impulse to drink alcohol by dosing the mice with a drug specifically designed to block the response from the brain's immune system.

"Our body's circadian rhythms affect the 'reward' signals we receive in the brain from drug-related behaviour, and the peak time for this reward typically occurs during the evening, or dark phase. We wanted to test what the role of the brain’s immune system might have on that reward, and whether or not we could switch it off," said lead author and PhD student in the University of Adelaide's Discipline of Pharmacology, Jon Jacobsen.

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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