The University of Newcastle, Australia

Public Lecture – Public health in a post-truth world: The commercial determinants of health

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Join Dr Nason Maani Hessari for a free public lecture 27th June.

Nason Maani Hessari

Visiting international scholar and expert on the commercial determinants of public health, Dr Nason Maani Hessari will give a public lecture on the role of harmful product manufacturers in shaping public discourse, science and population health on Thursday 27 June 4-6pm in theatre X101 at New Space. The lecture is free and open for anyone to attend, please register your attendance.

At a time of increasing awareness about the global challenges facing humanity, and the extent to which upstream factors like our physical, social and political environments influence our health and wellbeing, Dr Maani says it is more important than ever to understand the powerful forces shaping these factors.

“This talk is about the scale and nature of the challenges posed to public health and public discourse by harmful product industries, what forms these challenges take and what the broader implications are moving forward,” Dr Maani said.

Professor Kypros Kypri from UON’s School of Medicine and Public Health and Associate Professor Charles Livingstone from Monash University will join Dr Maani for a panel discussion after the talk.

Behavioural scientist with the School of Humanities and Social Science at UON, Associate Professor Penny Buykx, says that Dr Maani’s lecture will be of interest to a wide range of people.

“At some point, almost everyone buys products from or is in some other way affected by a potentially harmful industry. Dr Maani’s lecture and the subsequent panel discussion will explore how big business seeks to influence political decision making and to shape our beliefs about the impact of their products,” Associate Professor Buykx said.

“We are really excited that Dr Maani is coming to the University to share his work about harmful product industries and how they seek to influence government policy,” she added. “His research, undertaken at the prestigious London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, uses innovative methods such as analysis of Twitter activity and Freedom of Information requests to better understand how such industries act as ‘corporate’ determinants of health, maintaining and potentially exacerbating health inequalities.”

Dr Maani co-authored a report released earlier this year that revealed emails between Coca Cola and the US public health agencythe Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that show how the beverage giant tried to influence the World Health Organisation to emphasise exercise over diet as the solution to the obesity epidemic.

Dr Maani said there are a wide range of tactics that harmful product industries use to deny, distort or distract from the harms their products cause.

“Often this occurs behind closed doors, or under the banner of corporate social responsibility,” he said. “When you consider the power imbalance (the marketing budget of Coca Cola alone is comparable to that of the entire World Health Organisation), the impact of such tactics for public discourse, research and policy-making may be far-reaching.”

For further information contact Associate Professor Penny Buykx, 4921 7786.


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