According to British researchers, people who suffer from hunger in childhood must also expect reduced resistance later as an adult.
So far, the common opinion has been that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Childhood hunger was seen as a prerequisite for developing into a good utilizer of nutrients and for being better able to survive later times of need. The British researchers headed by Adam Hayward from the University of Sheffield now contradict this. In their investigation, they came to the conclusion that the negative long-term effects of hunger in childhood are significant. In the study, which appeared in the “Proceedings” of the US National Academy of Sciences, the scientists found that the long-term effects of hunger in childhood manifest themselves, for example, in lower life expectancy and weaker immune systems. In addition, adults who were exposed to significant malnutrition in childhood testify to the examination of fewer offspring. To investigate the long-term effects of malnutrition in childhood, the British researchers analyzed 19th-century Finnish church records of parishes that suffered severe famine between 1867 and 1868. The population of Finland decreased by eight percent during that time. Men and women born when harvests were particularly good were more likely to survive later famine than those who suffered starvation in childhood due to poor harvests.