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The Minnesota Starvation Experiment

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25782294

During World War Two, conscientious objectors in the US and the UK were asked to volunteer for medical research. In one project in the US, young men were starved for six months to help experts decide how to treat victims of mass starvation in Europe.

In 1944, 26-year-old Marshall Sutton was a young idealist who wanted to change the world for the better. As a conscientious objector and Quaker, he refused to fight in the war but he still craved the chance to help his country.

"I wanted to identify with the suffering in the world at that time," he says. "I wanted to do something for society. I wanted to put myself in a little danger."

That danger came, unexpectedly, in the shape of a small brochure with a picture of children on the front.

"Will you starve that they be better fed?" it asked. It was a call for volunteers to act as human guinea pigs in a medical experiment at the University of Minnesota.

All over Europe people were starving - in the Netherlands, in Greece, in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union - and the US military wanted to learn how best to re-feed them. But first they had to find healthy people willing to be starved.

Perhaps surprisingly, hundreds of conscientious objectors - or COs - applied, all eager to help. Sutton was grateful to be one of 36 young men chosen.

..

The regime was tough - during the six months they were being starved, the men were expected to walk or run 22 miles (36 kilometres) every week, expending over 1,000 calories more than they consumed each day.

Their walks took them past bakeries and other temptations - and it was all too much for some participants. Three pulled out of the experiment.

Pushing the body to limit with lack of calories, would you be able to run 22 miles on that sort of intake a week?

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Pushing the body to limit with lack of calories, would you be able to run 22 miles on that sort of intake a week?

Only at a slow pace and into the loving arms of a bag of cakes.

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