I would like to believe that I am still living ‘early life experiences’, as I think most of my professional life is still ahead of me. However, my interest in public health nutrition came during my school years while doing volunteering in impoverished rural areas of Mexico. It was the late 90s and there was still a high prevalence of undernutrition in these areas. I decided to study nutrition to help and improve the lives of Mexicans living in poverty who were undernourished. I believed (and believe) the inequities I saw in Mexico were unfair.
When I started university I learned that obesity and nutrition-related chronic disease were the problems of the ‘future’ and that our generation of nutritionists would have to deal with this and not undernutrition any more. I was a bit disappointed. However, I enjoyed my studies very much. I also realised that tackling nutrition problems such as obesity at the clinical nutrition level was extremely difficult and frustrating when the environment where people lived and their socioeconomic position conditioned them to ways of life that were liable to make them ill. I was never interested in one-on-one nutrition advice, I always thought of the big picture and about how to change it.
I believe in tackling health inequities: for example, by addressing how certain risk factors such as unhealthy eating are socially patterned. I believe in regulation of the food industry for example in issues such as marketing to children and trans fatty acids. I also think we have to look at social, economic, political and environmental determinants of disease, health and well-being in order sustainably to tackle many of the health problems the world faces today.
In the past I worked for three years in the UK National Health Service as the programme manager of a cardiovascular disease prevention initiative in a London borough. Before my MSc I was a nutritionist and researcher at the National Institute for Respiratory Diseases, Mexico City.