UMN Follow-Up Study Looks Back on 40's Starvation Study

Image Source: Jane Borstad, Minnesota Daily

In 1944, a study conducted by University of Minnesota Medical School faculty observed 36 individuals who volunteered to be partially starved over a six month period to inform medical professionals on how to treat those who were held in prisoner of war camps during World War 2. The landmark study's findings would go on to be used in educating professionals on how to approach and treat eating disorders.

“[The Keys study] didn’t focus on the eating and weight issues and how long it takes to recover [from starvation],” said Dr. Elke Eckert in an interview with the Minnesota Daily. “We really are the only study that did that.”

The follow-up study tracked down the participants in that 1944 study and asked them about their physical and mental health during and following the original study. The effects of starvation had lasted longer than researchers predicted.

“We were trying to make the point that one of the reasons it’s so hard to get over eating disorders is because there’s something that goes on psychologically and physically [during starvation],” Eckert said.

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