Dr. Grossi's Blog

Dieting/Starvation/Food Preoccupation

Dr. Philip Grossi
Sunday, 01 April 2012

I am again revisiting Ancel Keys' Minnesota study of 32 men who were semi-starved for six months, i. e., ate 50 per cent of the calories consumed in the three month control period. What were the effects on thinking about food?

  • General interest in food was increased as evidenced by increased talking and thinking about food.
  • The subjects studied cookbooks, collected recipes, and looked at menus.
  • Increased food cravings
  • More time considering how to allot the day's food and food dislikes disappeared.
  • They became more possessive of food and demanded that food and drink be hot.
  • They either ate slowly or gulped down their food ravenously; but, in any case they ate their food to the last morsel.
  • There was an increase in drinking of coffee and tea and gum chewing.
  • There was an increase in smoking.
  • There was an increase in nail-biting.
  • There was a notable change in spending habits from overspending of frivolous objects to obsessive saving of money.

The semi-starvation again produced substantial changes in attitudes toward food as it produced physical and psychological changes.  Next we will see the changes on social interactions.

(Or jump to the post about the refeeding stage of the study.)