Vera Perino

Ashoka Fellow
Brazil,
Fellow Since 2010
Instituto Movere

Citation

This profile was prepared when Vera Perino was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
Brazilians have been slow to acknowledge the emergence of obesity as a serious problem to grapple with because of their country’s traumatizing past with malnutrition. Various medical doctors have begun addressing the physical symptoms of the disease under the assumption that it can be quickly treated with drugs; but they usually fail to recognize the psychological, behavioral, and socioeconomic factors that lead to obesity. Vera is leading the way in addressing this issue among low-income overweight children and youth. She is dismantling the restrictive approach of diets and medical treatment, and replacing it with a methodology that positively incentivizes lasting behavior change. Vera is bringing psychologists, physiotherapists, nutritionists, physical education teachers, and endocrinologists together to address the various facets of the issue through fun and participative activities.

Vera began implementing her approach in 2004 when she founded the Movere Institute, which offers free treatment to low-income children and spreads awareness about this problem to health professionals, schools, governments, and Brazilian families. By working with both children and their families, Vera is having a lasting impact on their lives. The results could not be more tangible: Improved eating habits; reduction of body weight and fat; increased fitness levels; improved self-esteem; and disease prevention. Constant monitoring and evaluation have allowed Vera to improve her methodology and to become a leading expert in this field.

Vera operates by the motto: “Small changes. Great results.” She has worked with more than 1,400 families, hundreds of schools and citizen organizations (COs), chefs throughout Brazil, and several recognized researchers in the field. Vera is on her way to changing the manner in which Brazilian society perceives and addresses obesity. In order to ensure the institute’s sustainability, Vera is diversifying Movere’s organizational structure. She is getting ready to open a new facility to offer her services, free of charge, to low income communities closer to their homes. This facility’s operations will be “subsidized” by for-profit gyms that will focus on providing preventative health care services to the base of the pyramid. Movere is also developing a partnership with the Ministry of Health which will allow Vera to spread her approach throughout the country.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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