Hunger strikes: preventing harm to students

J Am Coll Health. 1999 Sep;48(2):87-90. doi: 10.1080/07448489909595678.


When the health center encountered a student hunger strike, an initial search for medical information regarding fasting provided very little on which to build management decisions. The result of a more thorough evaluation of starvation literature is presented, along with survey responses from students who fasted. Starvation may produce many adverse events, including death. Yet, according to reports, acaloric fasts that include full water intake seem to be readily tolerated for 2 weeks in young, healthy adults. Our students included juice, sports drinks, and vitamins in their diets and completed their strike without major problems. Supplementation with carbohydrates and vitamins may improve the safety or comfort of a hunger striker, but clear proof of this effect does not exist.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Energy Intake
  • Fasting / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Lobbying*
  • Male
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Student Health Services
  • Students*
  • Universities*