Starvation happens when a living being (like a person or an animal) doesn't eat enough food to live properly. If a living thing is starving for a long period of time, it dies.
Starvation can be seen as an extreme version of hunger. During starvation, the body will slowly but surely become less fat and stop working properly, until the living being dies or eats enough again to stop starving.
There are other effects of starvation. These can include:
- problems with thinking properly,
- sudden and extreme changes to emotions,
- dehydration (lack of water in the body),
- loss of muscles,
- a swollen stomach caused by kwashiorkor,
- weakness and not being able to stand.
When the body is starving, the body will start eating itself in a final attempt to survive. When there are no muscles and fat left to eat, the person (or animal) dies. People who eat nothing usually die in a few months.
Even when a starving person eats again, they may have permanent damage to their body.
Some people intentionally starve themselves to lose weight, but this is considered a bad idea because it may damage the body.
In history, countries used to use starvation as a form of the death penalty.
In 1944 Ancel Keys started a scientific experiment about starvation to see the impact of starvation on people and to see how people could best recover from starvation. The participants were all men. They ate 1800 calories a day.
- Ball, Janet (20 January 2014). "The Minnesota starvation experiment". BBC News.