Starving to death in the USA

Don’t forget mental incapacity - an isolated senile 80 year old may simply forget to eat.

APB,well, since it IS my thread, I tried to get into the site you sent for stats. I was unsucsessful. What was the original site you went to? Maybe I can get it from there. :slight_smile:
I’ll let the TM know if I can find out the SD.

Hi popokis5. I did actually go there myself. It’s just the website mentioned in the quote (though of course you have to put http:// in front of it). It’s the National Center for Health Statistics, apparently a branch of the Center for Disease Control.

I found the ICD-9 code for death by hunger. The ICD-9 seems to be the code used on death certificates to specify the cause of death. This is how the statistics are compiled(I’m interpreting here; it’s not exactly spelled out clearly at the site, at least not in the time I spent on it).Anyway, the code for hunger is E904, with subdivisions E904.1 (lack of food), E904.2 (lack of water), etc. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the actual table with statistics for this code. I’ve written the people at NCHS, and hope to hear something in a day or two.

I did find the table for malnutrition. The ICD-9 codes are different for each different type of malnutrition and run from 260(Kwashiorkor) to 269(Oh, thiamine or something. I forget). Altogether, it looks like several thousand a year die of all the different types of malnutrition. But this includes people who have digestive diseases, people who can’t eat because of cancer of the throat, etc. Not quite what you’re looking for, I think.

If you can get through and find E904, let me know.

This is actually an interesting site. Among other things, it has a different code for every different type of suicide, places of death (in a house, on a lake), etc. etc. all broken down by age, race, and sex.

APB. And any TM that are still interested here. Just did a little exploring and got onto NCHS site. (APB, missed the http.//or whatever the first time). Starvation didn’t even rate in the top 72 causes of death in the US of A. There was a subsection of renal failure that fell under the starvation stats if one goes to search. However, I couldn’t figure it out. I had the same problem APB. But, ITA, it is a really interesting site. Let me know what happens. Then we can find out about drinking and cirrhosis, what is it really?

I can personally vouch for the fact that people do starve in the US. In the ICU where I work, I see extremely undernourished people all the time. Often we have to call adult protective services to intervene. A couple of points, though:

1.These starving people are those who are unable to care for themselves: the elderly, children, the disabled.
2.They are starving not because there isn’t enough food around but because nobody will feed them. So the issue isn’t really food, but abuse/neglect of these populations- not the exact problem you were interested in, but a problem nonetheless.
3.Your death statistics will be misleading. Starvation causes all kinds of deadly problems: renal failure, heart failure, susceptibility to infection. I have seen people die from starvation, but I doubt starvation was mentioned on the death certificate.

Just last week, for example, I cared for a woman who was 5’8" and weighed less than 90 pounds. She had huge bedsores and all her limbs were so contracted that she couldn’t move at all. I thought she must be 90 years old, but she was only 51; apparently her family had been keeping her in a closet or something. She died from a combination af sepsis and renal failure.

Case scenario: Starvation causes bedsores (because the person is too weak to move and has no tissue to cushion skin against bone), bedsores get infected (if a person is being allowed to starve, it’s unlikely that the “caretaker” will bother to keep the wounds clean), immune system is too weak to fight infection so sepsis and death occur.