Hunger: The Biology and Politics of Starvation

Overview

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 ...

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Hunger: The Biology and Politics of Starvation

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584659266
  • Publisher: Dartmouth College Press
  • Publication date: 12/14/2010
  • Pages: 356
  • Sales rank: 1,420,508
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

JOHN R. BUTTERLY is an associate professor of medicine at Dartmouth Medical School and the Dartmouth Institute of Health Policy and Clinical Practice, and the executive medical director of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
JACK SHEPHERD, a professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College, has worked in sub-Saharan Africa since 1968.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments PLATFORM OF UNDERSTANDING Prologue: "Peasants Always Starve"
The Silent Emergency The Framework of Understanding Lessons from the Great Irish Famine: The Causes of Starvation THE CRISIS OF NUTRITION The Basics of Nutrition The Anatomy and Physiology of Nutrition Agriculture: The Birth of Civilization . . . and Famine Lessons from the Great Irish Famine: Nutrition THE GENESIS OF RESPONSE Responses on the Ground Responses: Government and International Responses to Malnutrition Lessons from the Great Irish Famine: Nineteenth-century Ireland and Modern Africa
• WHY PEOPLE STARVE AND DIE Why Do Some People Starve?
Why Do Some People Die?
The Biological Basis for Political Behavior Lessons from the Great Irish Famine: Who Starves and Why?
THE WAY FORWARD The Right to Food Best Practices Prescription for Change Notes Index
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