Dr. Grossi's Blog

Effects of Refeeding

Dr. Philip Grossi
Sunday, 01 April 2012

illustration to effects of refeeding blogThe final three months of the study was designated the re-feeding period.  The men received from 1,877 to 4,158 calories.  During the first six weeks moodiness, irritability, poor morale, depression and loss of interest in earlier humanitarian concerns for starving people were prominent findings.  They were quarrelsome and more aggressive but less introverted and interested in their surroundings. Hunger during the first 12 weeks of re-feeding was immense with many eating to the feeling of bursting with food. Their preoccupation with food continued and their table manners deteriorated. During week 13, all food restrictions were lifted and the men ate an average of 5,218 calories. They ate and slept continuously. By week 15 social behavior at meals was returning to normal.  By week 20 all subjects felt normal and were less preoccupied with food.  Slowly humor, sociability and interest returned to the subjects who began planning for the future. 

Re-feeding had noticeable effects on their bodies. The men gained fat quickly and lean tissue more slowly.  Physical discomforts did not disappear quickly. Apathy, lethargy, and dizziness disappeared relatively quickly but it took longer to recover from tiredness, weakness, and reduced libido. Thirst increased and edema continued to be an issue.

(Read about personality and social changes, as well as food preoccupation, in the starvation stage of this study.)