I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I graduated in nutrition at the Fluminense Federal University, Niteroi, in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Since the beginning of my undergraduate studies I was concerned with the great prevalence of undernutrition among children, which was very high in Brazil at that time, and I felt that more justice was needed in health assistance and policy. This is why I became involved with the Public Health Nutrition.
After graduation, I worked for two years in Mozambique, in the Ministry of Health. In the beginning of the decade of 1980, I went to the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil, and taught at the Federal University of Mato Grosso for 11 years.