Eva Orsmond: ‘Young women have no reason to be overweight’

The weight-loss expert, known for her sharp tongue from her time on RTÉ’s ‘Operation Transformation’, says Irish GPs are letting their overweight patients down

Dr Eva Orsmond tucks into a pomegranate and beef casserole. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Dr Eva Orsmond tucks into a pomegranate and beef casserole. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Tue, Jan 21, 2014, 01:00

It’s nearly too perfect that Eva Orsmond has a Rottweiler and a Doberman. It would have been a surprise if the most fearsome doctor on our TV screens had a toy poodle or a Labrador lolloping around her Co Wicklow home. “They’re excellent security out here in the country,” says Orsmond, whose husband has been away a lot. They are company when she goes for a run on Newcastle beach too.

Not that she has had much time for running lately. She has five weight-loss Orsmond Clinics and she is just back from a month in Australia, where she met up with her husband, South African-born Wyatt, who was on the tail-end of a four and a half month sailing trip. Then there is her new diet book to promote.

The Finnish-born medic became famous over the course of her six years on Operation Transformation, RTÉ’s ratings-grabbing, fat-busting show. It took a while for audiences to get used to a doctor dishing out recipes, and to her frank approach and, because every reality show needs a baddie, she soon became a star. She was a rare thing: a TV personality with a distinctive personality.

But then her sharp tongue tripped her up. She made one of the contestants cry by telling her to “cop on and stop crying”, and she went from the being the one some viewers loved to hate to someone they were turned off by. So is she just a little chastened by the public reaction?

“Would I talk to anyone like that in my surgery? No, of course not – but don’t get me wrong, it didn’t come difficult to me,” she says. Orsmond has been replaced for this series by a GP and a nutritionist (who, incidentally, made a contestant cry last week, although there were no calls to Liveline or complaints to the Medical Council afterwards). Might the reaction to Orsmond have stemmed from how she said things rather than what she said?

“I am loud,” she says – and she is, even sitting around the island unit in her smart new kitchen. Although maybe that misses the point that it was the tone rather than the decibel level that was the problem.

Hollywood touch
The show made her a celebrity. “I love [being a celebrity], because when I arrived here I knew nobody,” she says.

Indeed, our interview kicks off with an odd celebrity-type moment, when Orsmond’s manager sits down at my elbow – a real Hollywood touch, as A-listers routinely have their “people” sit in on interviews. When asked, she moves to the nearby sofa. Dogs for security are one thing, but Orsmond doesn’t come across as someone who needs a minder.

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Róisín Meets...Dawn O'Porter