Learning From the Past: The Minnesota Starvation Experiment

Posted: July 14, 2012 in Blog, General
Tags: , ,

During WWII the U.S. government wanted to learn more about starvation so that they could better feed and care for the millions of starving people in Europe.

Flyers and advertisements were sent out and 36 conscientious objectors (from religious groups like the quakers who cannot commit violence) volunteered for the study so they could do their part for the war effort.  These 36 men were fit and healthy before hand, and for the first three months the men were fed as normal with around 3200 kcal (same as calories we know today) provided, so that baseline information could be gathered. professor Ancel Keyes, the head of the experiment, then reduce their intake to 1800 kcal for six months, with a diet like those experienced in Europe providing, potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, dark bread and macaroni noodles.  The final three months were a rehabilitation period where the men were assigned 1 of 4 different energy intake groups to identify the best method to provide the starving in europe a healthy rehabilitation back to normal consumption levels.

During the semi-starvation period the men were expected to walk 22 miles a week and expend 3009 kcal daily. As the semi-starvation process progressed the enthusiasm of the men waned severely.  They became increasingly irritable and impatient and begn to suffer the powerful physical effect of limited food.  These men were very kind and gentle people but began to bicker and become angry with each other constantly (think of what the effects will be on someone who is already a hot head and dangerous).  The men experienced dizziness, extreme tiredness, hair loss, muscle soreness, reduced coordination and ringing in the ears.

Food became an obsession with all of them, rituals replaced normal eating habits, they diluted the food with water to “increase” the amount.  Some of the men collected cookbooks and recipes and one of them had over a 100 by the end of the experiment.  All the men lost interest in women and their sex drive and food replaced their driving wants and needs.  Many would see another guy walking home at the campus (The experiment took place on campus at the University of Minnesota) and think that he looked healthy and was moving quick so he must be going home for dinner, they would then become extremely angry and develop a hatred for a complete stranger.


I give you this because its a case in point for knowing the dangers of your fellow man.  In a collapse scenario food will be the driving force in everyones lives, especially those who dont have preps.  Many of them may be neighbors youve known for years or even unprepared friends, and you may want to help but can due to the fact you cant spare any without endangering your own family.  Think of how a religiously dedicated conscientious objector felt hatred towards a complete stranger he “THOUGHT” might be going to dinner, and how others who are less scrupulous will be.

This is why you need a good community around you, a good bug out plan and the ability to defend yourself and your preps, which for all intents and purposes are your life.

The full article can be read at jn.nutrition.org



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