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ICYMI: how tobacco companies engineered the food supply, Country-centred approach to hospital design, and focus on hypertension

The World Health Organization has released its first global report on hypertension, showing about four out of every five people with hypertension are not adequately treated.

There’s plenty else in the column this week to raise your blood pressure, from Big Tobacco meets Big Food, to the closure of GP clinics in under-served communities, and the political dissemination of misinformation.

Scroll to the end for details of upcoming events, as well as some news on awards for people who will be well known to many Croakey readers.

The quotable?

Monday marks two years since girls were banned from attending high school in Afghanistan. This is an unjustifiable violation of human rights that inflicts long-lasting damage on the entire country.

Girls belong in school. Let them back in.”


Global health

‘Many of today’s unhealthy foods were brought to you by Big Tobacco’ is a story in The Washington Post that many Croakey readers will find of great interest (paywalled).

It begins: “For decades, tobacco companies hooked people on cigarettes by making their products more addictive. Now, a new study suggests that tobacco companies may have used a similar strategy to hook people on processed foods.

“In the 1980s, tobacco giants Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds acquired the major food companies Kraft, General Foods and Nabisco, allowing tobacco firms to dominate America’s food supply and reap billions in sales from popular brands such as Oreo cookies.

“By the 2000s, the tobacco giants spun off their food companies and largely exited the food industry — but not before leaving a lasting legacy on the foods that we eat.”

The article is based on new research, published in the journal Addiction, that examines the rise of “hyper-palatable” foods, which contain potent combinations of fat, sodium, sugar and other additives that can drive people to crave and overeat.

In the decades when the tobacco giants owned the world’s leading food companies, the foods they sold were far more likely to be hyper-palatable than similar foods not owned by tobacco companies.

The researchers pored over documents in the University of California at San Francisco’s Industry Documents Library, which contains millions of internal tobacco industry documents that shed light on how the companies designed their products to be addictive and the strategies they used to market them.

They identified 105 foods that were among the best-selling products for brands owned by either Philip Morris or R.J. Reynolds between 1988 and 2001. The researchers compared the nutritional makeup of these foods to 587 similar products sold by competing brands that were not owned by tobacco companies.

They found that tobacco-owned foods were 80 percent more likely to contain potent combinations of carbs and sodium that made them hyper-palatable. Tobacco-owned brands were also 29 percent more likely to contain similarly potent combinations of fat and sodium.

By 2018, the differences in previously tobacco-owned foods and other foods had mostly disappeared, reports The Washington Post. It’s not that foods got healthier, but that other companies saw what worked and many products likely were reformulated to make them just as hyper-palatable as those sold by their competitors.

Even though the tobacco companies no longer own these food brands, researchers say the findings matter because many of the ultra-processed foods that we eat today were engineered by an industry that wrote the playbook on products that are highly-palatable, addictive and appealing to children.

Read more here.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization released its first-ever report on hypertension, showing about four out of every five people with hypertension are not adequately treated.

The WHO and the World Bank have jointly published the 2023 Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Global Monitoring Report, revealing an alarming stagnation in the progress towards providing people everywhere with quality, affordable, and accessible health care.

Released ahead of the High-Level Meeting on UHC at the 78th United Nations General Assembly, the report finds that more than half of the world’s population is still not covered by essential health services. As well, two billion people face severe financial hardship when paying out-of-pocket for the services and products they needed.  Read: Public health practitioners as policy advocates: skills, attributes and development needs Read the Association of Directors of Public Health election manifesto in the UK Read about proposed changes to US drinking water standards


Healthcare matters


On World Patient Safety Day, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care released a new Guide for consumers. It was developed by patients and consumers, with insights on strengthening partnerships between patients, consumers and health services.

Read the article on private health insurance Read the article about this hospital project:

“Through the NSW Government’s Connecting with Country Framework, our new hospital will be developed with a Country-centred approach guided by local Aboriginal people, who know that if we care for Country, Country will care for us.

As part of our first Connecting with Country design jam in June, conversations with local Aboriginal Elders and community focused on exploring a series of design narratives and storylines to understand the history, significance, needs and purpose of place.

This week we held our second design jam to understand how our new hospital can feel connected to, and cared for, by Country.

Our passionate group of Aboriginal Elders, local organisations and community representatives took to pen and paper to come up with a range of creative and colourful ideas to help shape the redevelopment of the hospital.

The project team will now work with the health service, architects and planners to incorporate these ideas into the next phase of planning and design.

The design Jam took place on Wiradjuri Country and was facilitated by Yerrabingin with Albury Wodonga Health and Health Infrastructure. ”


Disability Royal Commission closes


#AusPol


Conference watch


Events


Appointments and awards



See previous editions of ICYMI

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