Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Starvation Experiment

The July 30, 1945 issue of Life Magazine included photographs of a starlet, the full text of the Surrender document signed by the Germans, an editorial that warned that Russia was becoming the number one problem for Americans - and photographs of Brethren that might have been taken at a concentration camp!

The 4-page photo spread had the heading Men Starve in Minnesota. It showed thirty-six volunteers - nine of whom were Brethren - who had voluntarily signed up to be starved nearly to death in order to teach scientists the effects of hunger and strategies for restoring starving people. These individuals were conscientious objectors who had been filtered through a rigorous screening program, before being accepted. They were idealistic and looking for a way to help humanity through their service to the nation.

Brethren in the program included Harold Blickenstaff, Wendall Burrous, Carlyle Frederick, Jasper Garner, Earl Heckman, Roscoe Hinkle, Dan Miller, Richard Summers, and Robert Willoughby. The participants were not only limited to less than 1600 calories a day, they were required to walk twenty-two miles outdoors, every week, regardless of the weather.

Participants discovered that they lost interest in everything but food. These healthy young men no longer cared about literature, sports, music, and most especially women. They licked their plates and eagerly consumed every scrap that was given them. Their body weight dropped dramatically until they were literally skin and bones.

The program was designed by Dr. Ancel Keys, whose reputation in nutrition had been established with his invention of the K Ration. And following the war he was the researcher who established the link between diet, cholestral, and heart disease. The massive two-volume study that resulted, The Biology of Human Starvation, is the only sanctioned study of its kind. It would no longer be ethical to produce such a study, and it has proven priceless not only for the rehabilitation of starving people, but has provided data essential to the study of eating disorders such as anorexia.

Source: Frank Ramirez Tercentennial Minute for July 6, 2008