Hunger: a modern history by James Vernon

Starvation is one of the terrible scourges of our world. In the words of the old song, it’s the rich that get the gravy and the poor……. Humiliating, deadly and unnecessary
Malnutrition is such a complex problem and has so many answers to the insoluble.
James Vernon has written a masterly book Hunger a modern History published by Harvard University Press which has an equally masterly review in Nature
Michael Sargent 2008 Starvation crime and punishment. Nature vol 451 pp 524-5
Amongst past theories are
Povery is a criminal act
Malthus‘s a God given discipline for the profligate
Charles Trevelyan on the Irish potato famine , a sharp and effectual remedy
A political weapon
Poor economic management and distribution

Malnutrition results from the availability of nutrients to individuals being insufficient.. Often but not always too many people for too little food.

The lack of nutrients may be total or in certain nutrients.

Availability may be a result of
1. geography, being located remote from the food supply.
2. transport
3. war and strife
4. economics ability to pay for the food
5. poor farming techniques and wrong crops
6. destruction of crops by disease or weather
7. political connivance and corruption
8. poor education
9. pathology e.g. celiac disease.

Nutrients are
the total macro nutrient need
1. calories,
2. energy ( carbohydrates and fat )
3. proteins
4. maybe fibre, maybe not.

the micro nutrient needs

1. vitamins
2. trace metals

Insufficient for

1. pregnancy
2. growth of body and brain
3. energy
4. resistance to infections

population means those who are requiring food. This may be the usual areas, Africa and Asia. But any population may be drawn into this problem by war, global change or any other lack of food.

There is a small group who because of some disease or bodily malfunction are unable to absorb or utilise nutrients e.g. coeliac disease.

Obesity is the converse.
The availability of nutrients being more than sufficient for the population at risk.. Too much food for too few people.

Martin Eastwood
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