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Should Ramadan be prescribed after Christmas? Obesity in the healthcare profession and the health benefits of fasting
  1. Ahmed Hankir1,
  2. Mohammed Hankir2,
  3. Rashid Zaman3
  1. 1Department of Psychiatry, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  2. 2Integrated Research and Treatment Centre for Adiposity Diseases, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
  3. 3Department of Psychiatry, The University of Cambridge and South Essex Partnership Trust, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ahmed Hankir, ahmedzakaria{at}


Obesity is an important risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. In the UK, one in four people are considered overweight or obese and that number is expected to rise to one in three by 2020. Employees of the National Health Service (NHS) are no exception with up to half of healthcare workers considered overweight or obese. Religious periods such as Christmas and Ramadan are associated with weight changes. Weight gain has been reported during the Christmas period albeit not as much as was traditionally believed according to the results of recent research. Conversely, weight loss has been reported in Muslims who fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan; however, this amount tends to be modest and weight gradually returns to pre-Ramadan status according to a meta-analysis of the literature. We report a case of an NHS healthcare worker – which is the first of its kind that illustrates the role that fasting and other factors have played a role in causing dramatic oscillations in his weight.

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