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The Biology and Politics of Starvation
John R. Butterly, Jack Shepherd

Geisel Series in Global Health and Medicine

2010 • 356 pp. 8 tables & charts. 6 1/8 x 9 1/4"
Medicine & Public Health / Global Health

$35.00 Hardcover, 978-1-58465-926-6

$27.99 Ebook, 978-1-58465-950-1

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

When people are subjected to chronic physical hunger, as well as malnutrition, they become more susceptible to disease. According to Butterly and Shepherd, as a result of its effects, chronic... [continued in Reviews below]”—Psychology Today

A timely and provocative look at the role political developments and the biology of nutrition play in world famine

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, recognizes the individual’s right “to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care.” More than sixty years later, despite the rapid advancement of science and technology and the proliferation of humanitarian efforts, inadequate nutrition remains a major health and social problem worldwide. Food insecurity—chronic malnutrition, persistent hunger, even starvation—still afflicts more than one in seven of the world’s people. As Butterly and Shepherd show, hunger is not the result of inadequate resources and technologies; rather, its cause is a lack of political will to ensure that all people have access to the food to which they are entitled—food distributed safely, fairly, and equitably. Using a cross-disciplinary approach rooted in both medicine and social science to address this crucial issue, the authors provide in-depth coverage of the biology of human nutrition; malnutrition and associated health-related factors; political theories of inadequate nutrition and famine; historical-political behaviors that have led to famine in the past; and the current political behaviors that cause hunger and malnutrition to remain a major health problem today.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“When people are subjected to chronic physical hunger, as well as malnutrition, they become more susceptible to disease. According to Butterly and Shepherd, as a result of its effects, chronic hunger becomes the leading cause of death throughout the world. When there are severe food shortages that lead to an actual breakdown of society, we call that ‘famine.’ Ultimately, though there are many causes of starvation or famine (e.g. weather, political conflict or corruption, reliance on a single crop, etc.), Butterly and Shepherd believe that poverty is the underlying cause. The rich rarely starve—except, of course, by choice!”Psychology Today

“This new look at hunger examines politics and biology in the context of evolution to determine what role they play in world famine. . . . The political perspective is preceded by a fascinating discussion of evidence that indicated our minds have been shaped by the same evolutionary forces as our bodies. The authors argue that seemingly opposite behaviors of aggression and bond forming (or love) are two sides of the same coin that evolved together as successful survival strategies. . . . while this was certainly a successful strategy a millennia ago, the authors argue that just as our technology has advanced to the point that we have actually reversed Darwinism—we modify our environment to meet our needs and not the other way around—our capacity for moral behavior has also advanced beyond the need for a dichotomy based on the other. What emerges from this study is the compelling argument that our biological processes are inextricably linked with our social and political behavior.”National Catholic Reporter

“Butterly refers to a ‘paradigm shift’ to the idea of a right to food, and explores the interaction of starvation and poverty. The authors go to extraordinary lengths to offer clear definitions and explanations. . . . Essential.”Choice

“Authors John Butterly and Jack Shepherd advance a most interesting perspective on the biological basis for individual and political behavior, a perspective often lacking in any of the political science books covering the behavior of policy-makers. . . . Hunger: The Biology and Politics of Starvation should be required reading for students, researchers, and project implementers with an interest in hunger alleviation, irrespective of their disciplinary background. With an emphasis on the interaction between biology and politics, the authors provide a constructive, evidence-based, and comprehensive analysis of hunger in all its dimensions.”—JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association

“I absolutely loved this book. It weaves history, politics, and science in a way that makes for a spellbinding story of why hunger is so prevalent and—as the authors say—one of our silent emergencies. The book clearly shows why learning the biochemistry and physiology of nutrition is so important. I suggest this be required reading for every developing health professional and food policy maker. The authors’ rational solutions to this huge issue will have profound impact on future policy. I congratulate them on the clarity of their approach to this important and too ‘silent topic’.”—C. Everett Koop, M.D.

“Nothing is more crucial to human survival than the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. In this timely and compelling book, John R. Butterly and Jack Shepherd take readers on an unexpected and illuminating journey through history, biology, economics and politics to understand the causes and consequences of chronic hunger, malnutrition, and starvation. The urgency of the moral question they pose—will poverty and disease continue because we cannot prevent them or because we will not prevent them?—is matched by the acuity of their analysis of the ‘lessons not yet learned’ from famines in the past. Hunger is essential reading for everyone concerned about food security, poverty, and social justice in our globalizing world.”—Jeffrey L. Sturchio, President & CEO, Global Health Council

JOHN R. BUTTERLY, MD, is Associate Professor of Medicine at Dartmouth Medical School and the Dartmouth Institute of Health Care Policy & Clinical Practice. He is the Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health.
JACK SHEPHERD, a professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College, has carried out work in sub-Saharan Africa since 1968.

Thu, 14 Mar 2019 13:07:51 -0500