My interest in public health and nutrition comes from my own experience. As a boy I suffered severe obesity, which has left an indelible mark on my person. For a long time I blamed myself and my family for what I had suffered. Only later, during my studies in political science, I understood that my condition was not really dependent only on personal or family irresponsibility, but rather on the powerful current processes of globalisation and transformation of food systems and dietary patterns.
What has most influenced my academic studies is analysis of the life and work of Josué de Castro, a physician from Pernambuco, Brazil, who struggled for food and nutritional security in his country and in the world, and who denounced the connections between global food crises and prevailing economic and social policies, both at a local and global level. What he wrote and stated applies now.
This raising of consciousness led me to abandon my studies in political science and to dedicate myself to social medicine. During my studies at the medical school of Bologna, I have been able to explore the themes of global health, human rights, right to health and food security, at the centre for international health of the department of medicine and public health.
Collaboration with this centre enabled me to work on a research project on food security in Recife, the capital of Pernambuco in Brazil, in 2011. I had the honour to work directly with Malaquias Batista Filho, one of the most important pupils of Josué de Castro. This experience has for me been a personal catharsis, and has radically changed my perception about the physician’s role in society, strengthening even further my personal activism for the promotion of the right to health. This year, finally, I decided to move to Recife to continue my work with Malaquias Batista Filho and his colleagues.