What exactly is a starvation ration?

From my conversation with UNHCR’s Nutritionist for Chad over on 850Calories.com:

I ask Wilkinson point blank if 850 calories a day is even enough to keep these people alive.

“Won’t they effectively, starve to death on these rations?”

There’s a deep sigh and then a long pause at the other end of the line. She’s measuring her answer carefully.

“You would expect people to continue to lose weight,” she says, uncomfortably.

I push her. “Really, though, 850 calories, it’s just not enough is it?”

“It isn’t just that. As important is the micronutrient profile: even as an adult you need them to sustain your immune system.”

Without the right micronutrients, she explains, refugees are exposed to illnesses that a better fed person would fight off quite easily.

“But yes, [the current ration level] is very, very low. For the children, in terms of calories, it’s probably ok, but for an adult, for a working adult…it’s an extreme value in terms of caloric intake.”

2 thoughts on “What exactly is a starvation ration?”

  1. It seems that 900 is considered a survival minimum that will sustain life “for months,” although of course that depends on the size and activity level of the person and their beginning weight. In general, they would lose weight on that diet, from what I have read, so if they are already dangerously underweight, this would not be good. It is also important to get enough micronutrients to prevent lowering the immune system.

    As for you, personally, it could be a good thing! It seems a diet of 800-900 calories/day for up to 8 weeks will drastically cut down abdominal fat and can actually reverse or prevent diabetes:
    http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/452220/How-a-strict-diet-of-800-calories-a-day-can-cure-diabetes-in-weeks

    So, a silver lining for your efforts!

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