University of Starvation


“Probably the most systematic study of the effects of starvation was conducted over 30years ago by Ancel Keys and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota (Keys, Brozek, Henschel, Mickelsen & Taylor, 1950). The experiment, commonly referred to as the Minnesota Starvation Experiment/Study, involved restricting the caloric intake of 36 young, healthy, psychologically normal men who had volunteered for the study as an alternative to military service.

During the first three months of the experiment, the men ate normally, while their behavior, personality, and eating patterns were studied in detail. During the subsequent six months, the men were restricted to approximately half of their former food intake and lost, on average, 25% of their original body weight. This was followed by three months of rehabilitation, during which time the men were gradually re-fed.

Although their individual responses varied considerably, the men experienced dramatic physical, psychological, and social changes as a result of the starvation. In most cases, these changes persisted during the rehabilitation or re-nourishment phase.

An inevitable result of starvation was a dramatic increase in preoccupation with food. The men found concentration on their usual activities increasingly difficult, since they were plagued by persistent thoughts of food and eating. In fact, food became a principal topic of conversation, reading, and daydreams. Many of the men began reading cookbooks and collecting recipes.”


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