08: Starvation Study: The Extreme Psychological and Behavioral Effects of Malnourishment


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By Rachelle Heinemann. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Welcome to another episode of the Understanding Disordered Eating podcast. In this episode, we will be diving deeper into the Minnesota Starvation Experiment or the Minnesota Semi Starvation Experiment. This study was conducted by Ancel Keys, who was a professor of Physiology at the University of Minnesota. During World War II, he was a consultant to the War Department, and wanted to study the effects of starvation most significantly for those who were in the war, and how to provide post-war rehabilitation.

Though this study is being cited all the time, it is important to note that it only had a total of 32 participants. And while it has a very small sample size, the information that we learn from the study is still significant and important.

[00:01 - 2:17] Opening Segment

  • I introduce our topic for this episode
  • Let’s talk about the Minnesota Starvation Experiment

[02:18 - 14:33] The Minnesota Starvation Experiment

  • The stages of the experiment
    • Initial stage - 3 months
    • Semi starvation period - 6 months
    • Rehabilitation period - 3 months
  • Participates talked about their experience
  • Effects of the semi starvation period
    • Physical change
    • Psychological change
    • Social changes
    • Behaviors related to food
  • Re-feeding period
    • Participants are put in 1 of 4 categories
    • Did not feel relief

[14:34 - 19:38] Implications of the Study

  • A lot of this sounds familiar for those with disordered eating
  • Re-feeding process must be done really carefully
  • Biological pressure to look for food
  • Final words

Tweetable Quotes:

“By learning about the effects of starvation, we can avoid attributing all of these symptoms to some other causes that aren't connected to just a significant calorie deficit.” - Rachelle Heinemann

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You can connect with me, Rachelle Heinemann on Instagram, through my website www.rachelleheinemann.com, or email me directly at rachelle@rachelleheinemann.com.

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