Historic link between food and famine uncovered

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A new Sheffield University study has found a link between poor access to food in early life and increased risk of death in later life.

People who experienced poor harvests around the time they were born were less likely to survive a famine than those born in abundant years, researchers found.

They analysed crop variation together with birth, death, childbirth, and socioeconomic status records for more than 3,000 individuals in Finland.

They looked at the factors that influenced their fates during the famine of 1866-68, when one in 10 of the population died.

Dr Adam Hayward said: “Our study shows we are what we eat from the day we are born. In the longer term our bodies don’t learn from famine, they’re weakened by it.”