Starvation can mean either:
- The state resulting from prolonged malnourishment, eg. "Thousands of people die from starvation every day."
- The withdrawal of food from someone, eg. "This patient must be starved for 24 hours before this procedure"
which is more properly labelled fasting.
Refeeding syndrome may complicate the recovery from starvation when food becomes available.
The proportion - perhaps a third- of that food which is grown in countries where starvation is endemic and having been flown to a developed country is discarded rather than being eaten seems cause for censure. The development of wheat and rice and the technologies to store them across multiple growing seasons seems to have greatly reduced the experience of accidental famine from previous generations. The near starvation of UK residents during the battle of the Atlantic, and the actual starvation of populations in continental Europe later in that war still leave memes about food in the narratives of families, and therefore patients, and these occasionally must be understood in order to have effective conversations with patients whose relationship to food is complicated or unsatisfactory.
The Minnesota Starvation Experiment A deliberate study of the effects of starvation - a diet producing a 25% loss in body weight in male volunteers over 24 weeks - and refeeding was carried out during World War 2. The results were intended to inform the refeeding of populations in Europe and Asia. It produced a book (Keys, A., Brozek, J., Henschel, A., Mickelsen, O., & Taylor, H. L., The Biology of Human Starvation (2 volumes), University of Minnesota Press, 1950.)
Sporadic cases of starvation of the self or dependents occur where there is no shortage of food, and are mainly divisible into madness and badness. See also anorexia nervosa.
This article is a stub. Please feel free to expand it and make it more encyclopaedic.