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Nelson Chaves

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Nelson Chaves

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Last update: 05/02/2013

By: Virginia Barbosa - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

Doctor and nutritionist, Nelson Ferreira de Castro Chaves was born in 1906, on the Venus Plantation in the municipality of Água Preta, in the southern forest area of Pernambuco.

A doctor who graduated from the National Faculty of Medicine in Rio de Janeiro, he left medicine to dedicate himself to research in the field of Nutrition, especially in alimentary needs. The reason that led to this decision was a visit he made, accompanied by two Swiss scientists, to the Hospital Infantil (Children’s Hospital) in Recife. There he found starving children, suffering from palsy, as a result of protein deficiency.

One of the most dedicated scholars of infant malnutrition in Northeast Brazil, he developed the theory of nutritional stunting in children from the Pernambuco forest zone, and was the creator of Nutriente V – a food supplement based on beans, corn flour, calcium and vitamins, with the goal to combat the effects of infantile malnutrition.

He was a professor at the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Recife; General Director of the Pernambuco Department of  Public Health (1940-1943); Secretary of Health and Social Assistance of the State of Pernambuco (1949-1951); Director of the Curso de Nutricionistas (Nutritionist Course) (1957-1965), founder and director of the Institute of Nutrition (1962-1972), Director of the Department of Nutrition (1975-1976) and Pro-Rector of Research and Post-graduation (1971), all at the Federal University of Pernambuco; president of various societies (the Pernambuco Society of Medicine, the Brazilian Society of Endocrinology and Metabology, and the Brazilian Society of Nutrition); and a UN consultant on nutritional matters.

He created around eighteen assistance services (health posts, childcare, sanitary units, establishing charities and maternity hospitals) in Recife and the interior of Pernambuco.

He published various books, among them include: Método de estudo das proteínas (Methodology of the Study of Proteins) (1962); Nutrição, emoção e arteriosclerose (Nutrition, Emotion and Arteriosclerosis) (1962); O clima tropical e a nutrição (The Tropical Climate and Nutrition) (1963); Nutrição e saúde pública (Nutrition and Public Health) (1964); Os alimentos protéicos no Brasil (Protein Foods in Brazil) (1964); Fotossíntese, nutrição e energia (Photosynthesis, Nutrition and Energy) (1965); Trópico e nutrição (Tropics and Nutrition) (1966); Sistema nervoso, educação e nutrição (The Nervous System, Education and Nutrition) (1974).

He died in Recife on 24 May 1982.


Recife, 23 july 2006.
(Updated 14 september 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, January 2012.


sources consulted

BIOGRAFIA: Nelson Chaves. Disponível em: . Acesso em: 31 jan. 2006.

COSTA, Maria Christina Malta de Almeida (Org.). Quarenta anos de Nutrição no Nordeste: uma retrospectiva. Recife: Ed. Universitária da UFPE, 1995.

GRANDE ENCICLOPÉDIA LAROUSSE CULTURAL. São Paulo: Nova Cultural, 1998. v. 6. p. 1345: Chaves (Nelson Ferreira de Castro)

how to quote this text

Source: BARBOSA, Virgínia. Nelson Chaves. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009