2017 Colloquium



10.0010.15am Morning tea

Introduction to COMPASS Research Centre and its work programme – Dr Barry Milne, Director, COMPASS


E Tipu E Rea: The Better Start National Science Challenge – 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). This presentation will discuss our broad objectives within each of these domains.


Who misses out on the B4 School Check? – Sheree Gibb
In 2008 the Ministry of Health introduced the B4 School Check (B4SC) programme 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. We 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 – Dr Nichola Shackleton
Prevalence of childhood obesity is high in New Zealand, but is prevalence going up or down? We assessed trends in 4-year-old obesity from 2010/11  2015/16 using the B4 School Check, a national programme monitoring child growth and other health and developmental factors. 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 – 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). We investigated seasonal effects on obesity in 4-year-old children using B4 School Check data. We found striking differences, with winter prevalence 20% higher than summer. Differences were observed across region, gender, ethnicity, and deprivation groups.


Lunch (provided)


Index of multiple deprivation and dental health – 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. We 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. We 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 – Roy Lay-Yee
This new project aims to investigate the development of loneliness, i.e. the subjective feeling of lacking companionship - across the life course, and its correlates and consequences in relation to different developmental trajectories. To achieve this, we utilise data from 3 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). We provide a project overview, and introduce the 3 studies as they relate to our investigation of loneliness.

A Shiny new app for policy: Using simulation to test which factors most improve child wellbeing  Dr Barry Milne
COMPASS has 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. I will demonstrate 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.