Need to find: Article read about life expectancy vs hunger at age 10-12
June 26, 2013 9:19 AM   Subscribe

I read an article about how going through a period of severe hunger during age 10-12 can lead to longer life. It was based on birth and death records crossed referenced with annual crop yields for some European country prior to the 20th century. Help me find it?

Sometime in the past year, I read an article that put forth a theory that having a period of hunger when aged ~10-12 would lead to longer life (and possibly pass this down to the person's children, too? but I could be remembering it wrong).

It was based on examining birth and death records of a European country and cross referencing it with periods of poor crop yields. They looked at who lived the longest (dying of natural causes) and found that there was a significant likelihood that those who lived the longest experienced a sustained period of severe hunger when they were 10-12 years old (I believe this may have been studied across more than 1 period of famine in the nation's history).

For some reason I want to say the country was Norway, or the Netherlands, or something like that... but I could be wrong. It was particularly interesting because the studied records went back well before the 20th century and were apparently very detailed in their descriptions of crop yields, birth records, and causes of death. Apparently no other countries kept records like this for whatever the time period was, so it made it a particularly unique analysis.
posted by buckaroo_benzai to Science & Nature (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Do you mean the Finnish famine of 1868?
posted by vacapinta at 9:26 AM on June 26, 2013

Best answer: I believe they talked about this research on a RadioLab episode
posted by Sybil Stockwell Oop at 9:28 AM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Related FPP about lingering physical effects in survivors of the hungerwinter in the Netherlands in WWII.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:30 AM on June 26, 2013

Response by poster: Ahhh, yes. I believe you are correct -- I heard it on Radiolab and then tracked down the article in Time magazine (which is from 2010). For whatever reason, googling the relevant terms "crop failure" "longevity" "records" "europe" couldn't get me there.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 9:47 AM on June 26, 2013

There have been clinical studies done with rats that show that an extended period of extremely poor nutrition (i.e. starving) leads to a longer life. There's a lot of research into why this might be but so far as I know no one has figured anything out yet.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:51 PM on June 26, 2013

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