Hunger is a child with shrivelled limbs and a swollen belly.
It is the grief of parents, or a person gone blind for lack of vitamin A.
A single example of hunger is one too many. But in 1974 the United Nations reported that by the most conservative estimate, more than 460 million people are permanently hungry. They don't get enough calories to make a normal life possible and their number is increasing.
Without enough calories the body slows down and at some point starts to devour its own vital proteins for energy. When that happens, starvation has begun, a process described by Time this way:
The victim of starvation burns up his own body fats, muscles and tissues for fuel. His body quite literally consumes itself and deteriorates rapidly. The kidneys, liver and endocrine system often cease to function properly. A shortage of carbohydrates, which play a vital role in brain chemistry, affects the mind. Lassitude and confusion set in, so that starvation victims often seem unaware of their plight. The body's defenses drop; disease kills most famine victims before they have time to starve to death. An individual begins to starve when he has lost about a third of his normal body weight. Once this loss exceeds 40 per cent, death is almost inevitable.1
460 million people are victims of acute hunger. If we widen the definition of hunger to include those who get enough calories, but not enough proteins or other essential nutrients and so can-