2017 Colloquium

The 2017 Colloquium started with an introduction to COMPASS from our director, Dr Barry Milne and an outline of the following presentation topics for the day.

E Tipu E Rea: The Better Start National Science Challenge

Presented by: Rick Audas

The Better Start National Science Challenge examines childhood obesity, literacy problems, mental health and Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Big Data theme is using routinely collected administrative data to examine the antecedents and sequelae from each of these target areas using the Statistics New Zealand Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI).  

Who misses out on the B4 School Check?

Presented by: Sheree Gibb

The B4 School Check (B4SC) programme was introduced by the Ministry of Health to monitor health and developmental indicators at 4 years of age. While B4SC coverage is high (>90%), little is known about the children who miss out. Researchers compared the characteristics of children who did and did not complete a B4SC. Children from backgrounds of social, economic and health disadvantage were less likely to complete a B4SC, suggesting that the B4SC is not reaching the children who would likely get the greatest benefit from it.

Improving rates of obesity in New Zealand 4-year-old children

Presented by: Dr Nichola Shackleton

This project addresses the prevalence of childhood obesity in New Zealand and whether or not that prevalence is going up or down. Researchers assessed trends in 4-year-old obesity from 2010 to 2015 using the B4 School Check. There was evidence for decreasing prevalence of overweightness, obesity, and extreme obesity. These downward trends were observed across gender, ethnicity, and deprivation groups.

Seasonal effects on obesity in New Zealand 4-year-old children

Presented by: Dr Barry Milne

Seasonal effects on obesity have been demonstrated in school children, with those measured in summer having the highest prevalence. Investigations in preschool children are less common, but have suggested the opposite pattern (highest in winter). Researchers found striking differences, with winter prevalence 20% higher than summer. Differences were observed across region, gender, ethnicity, and deprivation groups.

Index of multiple deprivation and dental health

Presented by: Dr Nichola Shackleton

The Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) measures area-level deprivation in New Zealand based on seven distinct domains across 5,958 geographic data zones. Researchers used the IMD to investigate ethnic specific deprivation gradients in early childhood dental caries. Caries was assessed using the ‘lift the lip’ screening tool, administered as part of the B4 School Check. The project found evidence for steep deprivation gradients in dental caries among 4-year-olds with considerable variation by ethnicity and by domain of deprivation.

Loneliness across the life course

Presented by: Roy Lay-Yee

This project aims to investigate the development of loneliness, i.e. the subjective feeling of lacking companionship - across the life course, and its correlations and consequences in relation to different developmental trajectories. To achieve this, researchers utilised data from three studies focusing on different life stages: longitudinal studies of childhood to mid-adulthood (Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health & Development Study), and older people (LiLACS NZ); and a cross-sectional survey of adults (International Social Survey Programme). The presentation provided a project overview and introduced the three studies as they relate to our investigation of loneliness.

A shiny new app for policy

Presented by: Dr Barry Milne

COMPASS developed an app for policy makers which allows them to test policy scenarios around improving child wellbeing. Designed in the R web application SHINY, the app allows policy makers and analysts to run realistic simulations in which the effects of changes in children’s circumstances are modelled. Dr Milne demonstrated how the app can be used to test models simulating obesity, school attainment, depression and alcohol abuse, using an underlying microsimulation model: knowledge laboratory of the early life course.