The Minnesota Starvation Experiment


This week I want to take you back to 1944 when the Minnesota Starvation Experiment was conducted. This was a study designed to determine the effects of starvation on the body and the mind. The original goal was to help famine victims at the end of World War II, when lack of food was a problem around the world.

It’s a fascinating study to read about. They recruited 36 conscientious objectors of World War II, all young, lean and healthy men. They subjected these men to three different phases:

Phase 1 involved 12 weeks of normal living and eating – during this phase, the men ate just over 3000 calories per day on average. This amount kept their weight stable during this time period. The data collected during this phase defined the baseline physical and mental health of the participants.

Phase 2 involved 24 weeks of semi-starvation – this phase was designed to create a 25% loss of body weight in the participants. So for a 170-pound man, for example, this would mean a...

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