Food insecurity in starlings

By John DiTraglia - Contributing Columnist

This report of a demonstration of how food insecurity in captive young starlings by exposing them to 19 weeks of a regime where food was unpredictably unavailable for a 5 hour period on 5 days each week caused them to get fatter when compared to starlings who were exposed to constantly abundant food. (1) This increase in weight and fat stores happened despite the fact that they didn’t eat any more than the unrestricted birds.

According to the introduction and discussion in this report, these authors from Newcastle University UK and University of Groningen in The Netherlands point out that many studies have shown this to be a widespread phenomenon occurring in all kinds of birds and other animals including humans.

This easy to demonstrate evidence illustrates many of the conundrums of fat science that we have frequently visited and puts the lie to many of the widespread presumptions that tyrannize the obese among us. You don’t need me to further harp on those things. Just think about it for a little while and read this article about those birds.

These authors also observed that the starlings achieved this seeming miracle of increased energy storage in response to food insecurity by taxing body maintenance and repair that also costs energy. That is they got older and unhealthier at least for the period of the experiment. That is further insult added to injury. All of which makes the philosophical point that even though we are all alone in an amoral universe we are all alone together, so we should try to get along with and be nice to each other while at the same time trying to understand this universe.

1. Andrews C. et al. Exposure to food insecurity increases energy storage and reduces somatic maintenance in European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) Published:15 September 2021

By John DiTraglia

Contributing Columnist

John DiTraglia M.D. is a Pediatrician in Portsmouth. He can be reached by e-mail- [email protected] or phone-354-6605.

John DiTraglia M.D. is a Pediatrician in Portsmouth. He can be reached by e-mail- [email protected] or phone-354-6605.