angus barbieri split image

How long can a person actually survive without any food? Or even worse, without any food and water?

There are startling cases from history that document the extreme lengths of time people have gone without any vital sustenance.

While some doctors estimate that a well-nourished person can survive on a diet of sugar and water for around 30 days, the case of the longest survival without food was much, much longer than that.

In the 1960s, a man named Angus Barbieri (UK, b. 1940) survived for 382 days without any solid food.

The man, of Tayport, Fife, Scotland, lived solely on tea, coffee, water, soda water and vitamins during a stay at Maryfield Hospital in Dundee, Angus.

Between June 1965 and July 1966, his weight plummeted from 214 kg (33 st 10 lb) to just 80.74 kg (12 st 10 lb).

Angus Barbieri showing his weight loss in his old trousers

Angus is reported to have grown tired of being obese and checked into the hospital to fast under the observation of doctors.

Just like now, doctors recommend shorter fasts rather than longer ones and nobody expected the fast to last as long as it did.

But as the days went on, Angus became more and more determined to reach his “ideal weight” of 81 kg, with the end result being even lower.

He refused to return to eating, insisting he felt fine, and at one point was even allowed to return home, with regular visits to the hospital to be monitored.

An astounding image of Angus at the end of his fast shows him posing in an old pair of trousers.

The waist on them is so big that he looks like he could easily fit in them twice.

It’s said that Angus’s body began to adapt to the lack of food and started burning up fat for energy.

His glucose levels dropped to a consistently low level over the last eight months of his fast, although luckily, he didn’t suffer any medical issues as a result.

But he went so long without food that he reportedly forgot what it tasted like.

According to reports, he tucked into a boiled egg with a slice of buttered toast for his first breakfast after 382 long days without food.

It goes without saying that this method is not recommended to anyone looking to lose weight, as it can be incredibly dangerous.

Lots of health complications can arise from fasting, including an increased strain on the heart.

Angus appears to have been very lucky with his fasting success, as other patients have experienced heart failure and some have even tragically died of starvation.

Angus after his return to eating

The longest survival without food or water came just a few years later in 1979, when a man named Andreas Mihavecz (Austria) lasted 18 days without access to either.

He was 18 years old at the time and had been placed in a holding cell in a local government building in Höchst, Austria on 1 April 1979.

Astonishingly, police forgot about him, and he was discovered close to death on 18 April 1979.

Andreas was reportedly taken into custody by mistake after, as a passenger, he was involved in a car accident.

It’s said that all three officers responsible for his arrest had wrongly believed another of them had released him, while all along he remained in the basement cell.

Andreas is said to have survived by licking condensation off the walls of his cell.

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