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Fabio Gomes

Fabio Gomes 130 x 178As are many Brazilians, I’m a mixture mainly of indigenous, African, Portuguese and Spanish people. My father was born in the Amazon, my mother in Rio de Janeiro, four thousand kilometres from each other. I was born in Rio but I lived almost all my childhood and adolescence in Rio’s neighbour state EspĂ­rito Santo, in a city called Vila Velha (Old Village). This is where the simplest and most traditional and tastiest Brazilian fish dish comes from (the Moqueca Capixaba), traditionally prepared in an earthenware pot made from mud of a type found only in that locality, and produced by local paneleiras (pot makers). Vila Velha made me a lover of the sea and its fruits and also a lover of the hillsides that supplied us with fresh tomatoes, herbs and spices for the Moqueca, and a great variety of fruits and vegetables. I harvested fruits from the trees with my bare hands, we shared all the meals as a family, we knew what we were eating, and who was preparing the food we were about to eat.

My origins tell part of my history with food and nutrition, for my first contact were by simple and strong life experiences. The academic contact started in 1999 when I enrolled in the Nutrition undergraduate course at Rio de Janeiro State University. I immediately felt in love with every single discipline. My deep involvement also made me encourage colleagues not to give up on the course, and to see that it was part of our mission to serve our country.

My first field contact with public health nutrition was with the school food programme of the Rio de Janeiro state government in 2001. This was also my first contact with policy makers, which reinforces my sense of the political dimension of food and nutrition. Moved by this concept and by the questions that emerged from the contrasting settings and complexity of Rio, I started my Masters in Population Studies and Social Research in 2005. This gave me training in methodology and statistics, and also in social sciences and economics. This was when I started to connect social systems, macroeconomic architecture, geo-strategy and geo-politics to food and nutrition. In this way my worldview expanded profoundly.

After this training my first work was in 2006 as a national advisor to the United Nations Development Programme, within the Brazilian federal Ministry of Health. I travelled all over the country, mapping good practices on health promotion at schools. I met children, parents, executives, and policy makers, and I tasted and reported the bitter and the sweet of their realities.

In October 2006 I was hired by the National Cancer Institute of Brazil (INCA) to contribute to its mission on cancer prevention. Since then my main work at the Food, Nutrition and Cancer Division of INCA has been facilitating, encouraging, promoting and protecting healthier choices for the Brazilian people and for the planet we share.

BSc. in Nutrition (1999-2004), MSc. in Population Studies and Social Research (2005-2007). PhD student, Collective Health, at the Institute of Social Medicine of the Rio de Janeiro State University (2009-in progress). Have worked as advisor of the United Nations Development Programme for the Brazilian Ministry of Health, supporting the development of strategies to implement nationwide actions for Surveillance of Risk Factors for Non-Communicable Diseases in Schools. Currently work in the Food, Nutrition and Cancer Division of the National Cancer Institute of Brazil (INCA) as a senior analyst for national cancer control programmes, supporting the development of health promotion strategies in multiple settings, and developing and improving local and nationwide strategies to prevent and control cancer and other NCDs by means of the promotion of healthy eating practices.