A bustling crowd gathered at Unity Books Wellington on the evening of Thursday 21st April to celebrate the launch of Dr Robyn Toomath’s book Fat Science: Why Diets and Exercise Don’t Work – And What Does. Currently creating a stir both here and overseas, Fat Science addresses why losing weight is so hard, why people shouldn’t feel ashamed about their weight loss struggles, and who should be taking responsibility for the obesity epidemic facing New Zealand and the world (hint: it gets political).
As clinical director of General Medicine at Auckland City Hospital, a co-founder of advocacy group Fight the Obesity Epidemic (FOE), and with a long career in endocrinology behind her, Robyn brings years of knowledge and first-hand experience to the table. We were delighted to host her for the evening.
The first speaker of the evening was Sam Elworthy, director of Auckland University Press, who worked closely with Robyn on the book for a number of years. “We had a lot of fun and worked really hard,” he said. He praised Robyn’s ability to take a scientific mind to all aspects of the obesity problem, and shared that there has been plenty of international interest in the book, which stands out in a market saturated with books on weight loss.
Andrew Dickson, a senior lecturer in Management at Massey University, followed Sam at the microphone, with some impressive notes in hand. Andrew came to know Robyn through his own battle with obesity, describing reading the book as a “confronting experience”. He spoke warmly of Robyn and their friendship, and of the crucial health issues which she has dedicated much of her life to. “The directness with which she writes is a hugely positive factor of the book.”
Finally, Robyn herself took the Unity stage. She thanked all the people who helped the book come into being, including her close friend and former colleague at FOE, Robin White. Her passion is obvious, despite no longer being involved with FOE. “It’s tremendously rewarding to put your all into something,” she tells us, before sharing her frustration at the political factors that have contributed to such an uphill battle for change.
Nevertheless, she remains an important figure in the movement for a healthier society, and Fat Science promises to be an influential book. Robyn finished her speech with a short reading, before signing copies for an admiring audience.
Photos by Matt Bialostocki, words by Cassie Richards