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UPDATED: World Nutrition Rio2012: one year later

The motto of our congress was Knowledge, Policy, Action. With that motto, we proposed to the participants to go beyond a meeting and promote continued discussion and real action in public health nutrition. And that is exactly what is being done in Brazil.

After the congress, a Follow-up Group was created. This group meets monthly to discuss developments from WNRio2012. This group is composed of representatives from the key congress organizers, the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) and the Brazilian Association of Collective Health (ABRASCO), as well as other partners such as the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro State (UNIRIO), the Fluminense Federal University (UFF), the National School of Public Health (ENSP/FIOCRUZ), the National Institute of Cancer (INCA), the Federal and Regional Councils of Nutritionists, the Rio de Janeiro City Hall and Telessaúde UERJ.

Cycle of Debates: Knowledge, Policy, Action

The Follow-up Group has already conducted many activities. One key initiative is the Cycle of Debates: Knowledge, Policy, Action, a series of four events organized to discuss a specific theme chosen from WNRio2012 sessions. Key partners are invited to talk and a moderator facilitates the discussion. The meetings are open, free of charge, and broadcast online (Portuguese only). The Debates are aimed at academics, practitioners and PHN activists.


Photo by Jonathan Nunn.

The first session of the Cycle of Debates happened in February 2013, at UERJ. Based in the WN Rio2012 session “Discussion and Debates 20 – Eating as political act”, this opening meeting had the participation of speakers Renato Maluf and Fátima Portilho (both from the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro), and moderator Luciene Burlandy (UFF). They discussed issues around conflict of interests in public-private partnerships in food and nutrition, as this theme was considered one of the greatest priorities for articulation in Brazil.

Fátima Portilho focused on the consumption side of the issue. There are many daily actions that are central to understanding the act of eating as a political act, for example food choices, purchase mechanisms and intake. She highlighted that food choice is a highly political issue, in which people can be involved with in two ways: the boycott (for ethical reasons, for example) and the “buycotte” (in other words, to buy a product well aware of the way it was produced). Renato Maluf, on the other hand, defended a relationship between food and policy in which consumption is not the only element. He pointed out that consumption happens under the influence of social and economic determinants: choices are relative, and the way consumers behave is influenced by the instruments that are available to different groups or individuals. He highlighted that while individuals are worried about food safety, they are blind to issues related to production and distribution, which have more social aspects and power relations embedded within. He also remarked WN Rio2012 was the first congress of which he knew that continued to be developed further.

The second meeting had as basis the session “Discussion and Debates 13 – Public Private Partnerships in Public Health Nutrition: the public interest”. It happened in March 2013, with speakers Mariana Ferraz (University of São Paulo) and Luciene Burlandy (UFF) in the debate, and Association Executive Committee member Fabio Gomes (INCA) as moderator.

Photo by Jonathan Nunn.

Photo by Jonathan Nunn.

Luciene Burlandy focused her presentation on conceptual aspects, debating terminology and sharing with the audience what was discussed in the Working Group “Regulating the conflicts between public and commercial interests on public health nutrition” (also part of WNRio2012). Instead of trying to oversimplify the discussion in a dichotomist way (supporting either the public or the private sector), she defended the idea of analyzing the situation according to the context, current policies and their principles, as well as actions and policies from the private sector. She supported the need to regulate the private sector, which should not be involved in public policy decision-making processes. Mariana Ferraz showed some practical examples of public and corporative relationships in Brazil, and defended that one of the main actions needed to “denormalize” those relationships. As she said, “we cannot regard as normal the actions of the food industry that have a negative impact on public policy”. Finally, Mariana proposed the construction of a framework for food and nutrition based on the experience with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Beyond public-private partnerships, future Cycle of Debates will focus on the use of pesticides, regulation of food publicity and capacity building in public health nutrition. There are two more meetings to come, the next one in May 2013, with a discussion based on the WNRio2012 session “Discussion and Debates 8 – Political and economic obstacles to nutrition policies”. Stay tuned for more information on this upcoming event.

Empowering young professionals

The sessions are being organized by a group of young public health nutritionists, who were also involved in the organization of WNRio2012. This involvement has helped them develop valuable skills for public health nutrition practice, such as working as part of a team, understanding the key issues in policy-making processes, developing the ability to solve operational problems, as well as understanding the importance of networking and articulating with key sectors such as civil society organizations. Even though challenging, organizing these sessions has also provided them with the opportunity of working side by side with renowned professionals, and also to maintain good friendships that were made along with World Nutrition Rio2012.

Concrete results

The results of these debate sessions are being used to write up a manifesto/report, which will be released in the last session of Debates as the key product of this effort. A second edition of the Cycle of Debates is also being planned for the second semester of 2013 and onwards.

To know more about the World Nutrition Rio2012 developments in Brazil, please contact ciclodedebatesposwn@gmail.com.


Speakers: Ruben Mattos (IMS/ UERJ) e Vanessa Schottz (FASE)
Moderator: Luciene Burlandy (UFF)
Date: 10 May 2013
Time: 14:00 to 17:00 (Brazilian time)
Place: Auditorium 111 (11º floor, block F), Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ)

Webcast available!
To participate in the webcast, you can register at Telessaúde Uerj, at least, 3 days in advance. On the day of the event, be online 15 minutes before the start time and click in AGENDA, where the link to the Debate session will be available.

More information is available in Portuguese.

This article was written by Camila Maranha, Juliana Martins, Paulo Cesar Castro, Rebecca Greenwood, Rute Costa and Silvia Farias. Pictures were kindly provided by Jonathan Nunn.

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