Starvation Experiment During World War Two Comes to Light

A new story about a controversial experiment on World War Two soldiers has been reported. Known as the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, men from the US and UK were asked to volunteer for medical research and in one such project, young men were starved for six months to help experts decide how to treat victims of mass starvation in Europe.

All over Europe in the Netherlands, Greece, eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, people were starving and the US military wanted to learn how best to re-feed them, but they needed to find some human guinea pigs that were willing to be starved. Hundreds of conscientious objectors volunteered, but only 36 were chosen, including 26 year-old Marshall Sutton. The experiment started in November 1944 and for the first three months, the volunteers were fed to their optimum weight and monitored, before their rations were cut drastically, leading to an intense craving for food.

The men ate two meals a day, consisting of things like cabbage, turnips and half a glass of milk, but meat was never in the diet and calories were set at a maximum of 1,800. During the six months they were being starved, the men were expected to walk or run 22 miles every week, using up more than 2,500 calories every day, thus cancelling out their entire calorific intake.

3 people pulled out of the experiment while those that remained lost 25% of their body weight, suffering anaemia and exhaustion. Their psychological states were affected too, with the men becoming subdued, depressed and withdrawn.

As a result of the experiment, some advice was recorded to be passed on to future academics and nutritionists, including to allow the men to remain in peace and quiet so as not to affect their psychological state, and to reserve cheerful, stimulating activities for rainy days because the starving are emotionally affected by the weather.

Marshall Sutton is still alive today at 95, and has no regrets about taking part in the experiment.

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