Energy intake, dietary pattern and physical activity during Ramadan, Sally Ezzat and Mohamed Amin
Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of changes in energy intake, dietary pattern and mode of physical activity while fasting during Ramadan on the change in body weight of adult males and females.
Design/methodology/approach: This study included 207 males and 229 females from the administrative staff of Alexandria University using a systematic random sampling technique. Data were collected on total calorie intake, including the contribution of carbohydrates, fat and protein to the total calorie intake before and during fasting. The exact intake from foods commonly consumed in Ramadan was determined. Body weight was measured before fasting and after the end of Ramadan. The age, sex and educational level of the subjects were recorded. The intake of Ramadan specialities, mode of physical exercise and afternoon napping were also collected.
Findings: By the end of fasting, the body weight of males increased by 1.7 Kg and females by 2.6 Kg. The rate of weight gain was 17.9% among males and 27.9% among females, the corresponding rates of weight loss was 10.1% and 9.6% respectively. Fasting subjects increased their total calorie intake during Ramadan. They increased their intake from animal protein and fats and reduced the intake from carbohydrates. The intake from sugar, meat and dairy products was increased while fruit and vegetable consumption was reduced. The percentage gain in body weight was significant among illiterate subjects (3.75%) and in the age group older than 50 years (5.36%). The regular consumption of oriental sweets and soft drinks contributed significantly to weight gain. Regular practice of exercise during fasting was associated with a limited rate in weight gain among males (12.2%) and females (18.4%). The rate was higher among males and females who did not exercise, 22.4% and 38.1% respectively. While exercise after Iftar did not affect the body weight of fasting males and females, afternoon napping was associated with weight gain among females (49.2%). Weight loss during Ramadan was associated with higher educational level, younger age, and limited intake of oriental sweets, soft drinks and regular physical exercise during fasting.
Originality/value: This study revealed that fasting during Ramadan was associated with weight gain, and presents data on caloric intake, sources of calories, exact consumption from popular and selected foods and the factors affecting the rates of weight gain or loss during fasting.
Keywords: Fasting, Ramadan, Egypt, Food intake, Sources of energy, Body weight, Exercise