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Exploring the causes of starvation

Achance encounter years ago led Dr. John Butterly, a cardiologist and now the executive vice president of medical affairs for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, to think seriously about the causes of chronic hunger and starvation. After he came to Dartmouth, in 1999, he helped develop an undergraduate course on hunger that explored that interest. More recently, he and Jack Shepherd, Ph.D., a Dartmouth College professor of environmental studies, worked on a book that would bring together their years of research.

This fall, their new book, Hunger: The Biology and Politics of Starvation, was published. Butterly says the book is intended to help people understand the very complex issues involved in famines and chronic food shortages. In the excerpt available below (reprinted with the kind permission of the publisher, University Press of New England), Butterly and Shepherd discuss the Great Irish Famine, which led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Irish during the 1840s and the emigration of more than a million others. The issues involved in this famine, they argue, are still very relevant to recent famines in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere. Read more about Butterly's work and the inspiration for his book in the Faculty Focus profile published in the Winter 2010 issue of Dartmouth Medicine.

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