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Eat like the animals

What nature tells us about the science of healthy eating
David Raubenheimer and Stephen Simpson have been studying animal appetites. They share lessons from nature for nutritional balance, weight control and a longer life.

Update (Monday 16 March, 2020) 

In light of COVID-19 developments, please be advised this event will not be going ahead at this time. The Sydney Ideas program will continue, with our talks and conversations available as a podcast. Stay in the loop by signing up to our newsletter or following Sydney Ideas on Facebook and Twitter.


Most living organisms – from slime moulds to wild baboons – know instinctively how to balance their diet. They can intuit what their bodies need, when, and how much to eat. Humans have this ability too, but it’s been since hijacked by the modern food environment, leading to obesity and other diseases.

For over 30 years, David Raubenheimer and Stephen Simpson, leading researchers from the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney, have tracked the patterns of how appetites are fed and regulated. Their journey started together in nutrition science, and took them from Oxford to Sydney via the Pacific Island of Lifou to the deserts of Arizona, from slime moulds and locusts to humans. From labs to jungles, and finally to our modern processed food system. This all culminates in a unifying theory of nutrition and a new book Eat Like the Animals, to be released on 23 March.

Co-presented with the Charles Perkins Centre.

The speakers

Stephen Simpson is Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre, foundation member of the Obesity Collective and Chair of its Curators group, and Professor in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney. 

He spent 22 years at Oxford University before returning to Australia in 2005. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, a Companion in the Order of Australia and has been prominent in the media having presented Great Southern Land for ABC TV.

David Raubenheimer is the Leonard P. Ullman Professor of Nutritional Ecology in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, and Nutrition Theme Leader in the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney.

He previously spent 17 years at Oxford, initially as a doctoral student then as a Research Fellow and Departmental Lecturer in Zoology and Fellow of Magdalen College. He heads the Sydney Food and Nutrition Network and is a member of the Australian National Committee for Nutrition.

Charlotte Wood is the prizewinning author of six novels and two books of non-fiction. Her new book is The Weekend, a novel about friendship and growing older.

In 2016 she was the Charles Perkins Centre Writer in Residence.

Event image: Photo of golden monkey, provided courtesy of David Raubenheimer

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