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Health research to focus on new alcohol laws

Tuesday 10 Jun 2014 5:44 a.m.

New Zealand's new alcohol laws will be scrutinised following health research funding rounds.

The government is contributing $78 million to the 2014 Health Research Council (HRC) to fund more than 60 projects, programmes and grants.

Otago University has been awarded more than $31.3 million of the funding, including $1.19m to investigate New Zealand's new alcohol laws.

The laws gave local governments more power over where and when alcohol can be sold, but restrictions are being appealed by the grocery and hospitality sectors.

"This may undermine the wishes of the community by making it difficult or impossible for local governments to implement strategies that threaten commercial interests," lead investigator Dr Brett Maclennan says.

"The Government said they wanted to strike a balance between public health and commercial interests. This research will investigate how well they have managed to do that."

Another Otago University programme will receive $4.98m to examine how hormonal changes help women's brains adapt to pregnancy and the serious complications, including gestational diabetes, pre-term labour and postnatal depression, when those changes go awry.

Other research topics across New Zealand universities include diabetes prevention, gout, heart failure, Parkinson's disease, addressing avoidable harm suffered by Maori babies and biomarkers of anxiety.

The HRC funding has increased from $60.2m in 2013.

"We're delighted to be able to fund more research contracts to support New Zealand's excellent health researchers who will advance our knowledge of health, improve health outcomes for New Zealanders, and provide access to the international health research arena," Health Minister Tony Ryall says.

NZN

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