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February 18, 1950


JAMA. 1950;142(7):489-490. doi:10.1001/jama.1950.02910250037012

World War II both in the Far East and in Western Europe provided an unparalleled opportunity to study the effects of malnutrition and starvation on large population groups. The most recent report on this subject emanates from the Dutch, British, Canadian and United States public health groups which were responsible for the nutritional rehabilitation of Western Netherlands at the end of the war.1

A vast mass of information was collected and analyzed. According to the report the serious deterioration of health in the Western Netherlands began after September 1944. In some portions of that region the official diet was about 400 calories per day. In practice the daily calory intake varied widely, because people sought food from the surrounding countryside and anything edible which could be obtained from any source was added. Furthermore, the ordinary person often consumed the entire weekly ration in two or three days, which resulted