I want to share with you something I read this morning. This is some seriously interesting reading. It discusses and interprets the Ancel Keys “starvation study” from 1950.
The article is about the relationship between eating disorders and prolonged dietary restriction. The entire article can be found here:
Effects Of Semi-Starvation
It starts with this:
One of the most important advancements in the understanding of eating disorders is the recognition that severe and prolonged dietary restriction can lead to serious physical and psychological complications (Garner, 1997). Many of the symptoms once thought to be primary features of anorexia nervosa are actually symptoms of starvation. Given what we know about the biology of weight regulation, what is the impact of weight suppression on the individual? This is particularly relevant for those with anorexia nervosa, but is also important for people with eating disorders who have lost significant amounts of body weight. Perhaps the most powerful illustration of the effects of restrictive dieting and weight loss on behavior is an experimental study conducted almost 50 years ago and published in 1950 by Ancel Keys and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota (Keys et al., 1950). The experiment involved carefully studying 36 young, healthy, psychologically normal men while restricting their caloric intake for 6 months. More than 100 men volunteered for the study as an alternative to military service; the 36 selected had the highest levels of physical and psychological health, as well as the most commitment to the objectives of the experiment. What makes the "starvation study" (as it is commonly known) so important is that many of the experiences observed in the volunteers are the same as those experienced by patients with eating disorders.
It goes on to describe in detail how the study affected the participants, including:
Attitudes and Behavior Related to Food and Eating
Emotional and Personality Changes
Social and Sexual Changes
Cognitive and Physical Changes
You really do need to read the whole article to appreciate the significance of the impact on these men.
The study participants started out as healthy men, with no apparent predisposition to eating disorders. By restricting their food intake by half for the duration of study, they suffered profound and long lasting impact.
With Kimkins food is restricted much more, and often for longer, than it was for these healthy men for the ‘starvation study’. The symptoms these men suffered are very similar to symptoms described by Kimkins survivors. There has been a great deal of debate over whether or not Kimkins can cause an eating disorder. I am no authority, but in my heart I feel the answer is that yes it can. It is commonly said that eating disorders are not about the food, but this study seems to indicate the issue is not that clear cut.