Background and aims: During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk for one lunar month. The majority of Muslim diabetic patients are unaware of complications such as hypoglycaemia during fasting. The safety of fasting has not been assessed in the UK Muslim population with diabetes. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of Ramadan-focused education on weight and hypoglycaemic episodes during Ramadan in a Type 2 diabetic Muslim population taking oral glucose-lowering agents.
Methods: We retrospectively analysed two groups. Group A attended a structured education programme about physical activity, meal planning, glucose monitoring, hypoglycaemia, dosage and timing of medications. Group B did not. Hypoglycaemia was defined as home blood glucose < 3.5 mmol/l.
Results: There was a mean weight loss of 0.7 kg after Ramadan in group A, compared with a 0.6-kg mean weight gain in group B (P < 0.001). The weight changes observed were independent of the class of glucose-lowering agents used. There was a significant decrease in the total number of hypoglycaemic events in group A, from nine to five, compared with an increase in group B from nine to 36 (P < 0.001). The majority were in patients treated with short-acting sulphonylureas (group A-100%, group B-94%). At 12 months after attending the programme, glycated haemoglobin (HbA(1c)) reduction were sustained in group A.
Conclusions: Ramadan-focused education in diabetes can empower patients to change their lifestyle during Ramadan. It minimizes the risk of hypoglycaemic events and prevents weight gain during this festive period for Muslims, which potentially benefits metabolic control.