PUBLISHED: 21:24 EST, 26 June 2012 | UPDATED: 04:00 EST, 27 June 2012
A mother who is accused of starving her daughter to death after the 16-year-old died weighing just 40 pounds was obsessed with the teachings of a doctor who advocates being ‘wonderfully hungry.’
Dr Andrew Chung, a cardiologist who graduated from one of the most prestigious medical schools in the nation, mixes scripture with his medical advice and encourages his followers to eat just two pounds a day — less than half what the average American consumes.
Ebony Berry, 38,is friends with Dr Chung, he said. After her daughter, Markea Blakely-Berry, died on Saturday and she was arrested for murder, Dr Chung also visited her in jail.
Now, it is revealed police have questioned the controversial doctor about the teen’s horrific death.
‘Wonderfully hungry’: Dr Andrew Chung is an Emory University-trained doctor who advocates eating no more than two pounds of food a day
Dr Chung, who is a licensed physician in the state of Georgia, is active online in pushing his message that ‘hunger is wonderful.’
He has more than 5,300 friends on Facebook and has made hundreds of posts on internet message boards.
His book self-published book, ‘Be Hungry,’ is available for download at Amazon.com.
In an online video posted to YouTube, Dr Chung is ‘interviewed’ by a nurse, who is filming the encounter.
He says, ‘I’m wonderfully hungry. How about you?’
Tragic: Markea Blakely-Berry, pictured left as a young girl, has died after apparent neglect from her mother Ebony Berry, right, who is said to be involved with a ‘pro-hunger’ group
Happy family: Markea, left, plays with a relative at a family gathering before her alleged abuse began
When she replies that she’s not hungry, he says, ‘That’s terrible.’
‘Because being hungry is wonderful. The opposite of hungry, which is not hungry, is the opposite of wonderful, which is terrible,’ he explains.
Later, he claims to mathematically ‘prove’ that being hungry is wonderful.
‘When we’re 10 times hungrier, doesn’t food tastes 10 times better? And when food tastes 10 tastes 10 times better, that’s wonderful, isn’t it?… It’s a mathematical principle,’ he exclaims.
Dr Chung told WOOD-TV that he doesn’t advocate starvation and that if Berry was a follower of his, she wasn’t properly administering his medical advice.
However, he defended her and said she had nothing to do with her daughter’s death.
Haunting: This image of Thanksgiving dinner drawn by Markea shows the family with empty plates
Well-stocked table: But Markea was once so hungry she ran away from home and stole food from Walmart
‘The only thing that can straighten this out… that (police) hear from Ms Berry herself,’ he told the TV station.
‘She’s an ordinary, single mom who’s stressed out.’
Berry had a history of child abuse complaints in Grand Rapids, Michigan, before she moved her daughter to Mableton, Gerogia, which is also Dr Chung’s hometown.
WOOD-TV reports Markea Blakely-Berry once sent her grandmother a chilling drawing that featured people sitting around a table full of good things to eat. None of the people had anything on their plates.
When she died, police say Markea weighed just 40 pounds. It was just one third the average weight for a 16-year-old girl, which is 115 to 120 pounds.
Weight it: Dr Chung says his followers must weigh all of their food to ensure they eat no more than two pounds each day
Despite a medical degree from the prestigious Emory University Medical School, which ranks in the top 25 in the country, Dr Chung has found enormous numbers of critics to his philosophy.
In response to his online postings — which are one part medical advice, one part references to Bible verses — he has been called a ‘quack’ who advocates a ‘cult religion.’
He denies that his teachings are a cult, but even after the death of Markea, told WOOD-TV: ‘We wish everyone could truthfully say they’re wonderfully hungry.’