Background: During Ramadan fast, approximately one billion Muslims abstain from food and fluid between the hours of sunrise to sunset, and usually eat a large meal after sunset and another meal before sunrise. Many studies reported good health-related outcomes of fasting including weight loss. The objective of this study is to identify the local pattern of expenditure on food consumption, dietary habits during Ramadan and correlate that to self-reported weight gain after Ramadan in a group of families in Jeddah, Western Saudi Arabia.
Methods: A Cross-section study using a pre-designed questionnaire to identify the local pattern of expenditure on food consumption, dietary habits during Ramadan and correlate that to self-reported weight gain after Ramadan in a representative cohort of Saudis living in Jeddah. It was piloted on 173 nutrition students and administered by them to their families.
Results: A total of 173 Saudi families were interviewed. One out of 5 indicated that their expenditure increases during Ramadan. Approximately two thirds of the respondents (59.5%) reported weight gain after Ramadan. When asked about their perspective explanations for that: 40% attributed that to types of foods being rich in fat and carbohydrates particularly date in (Sunset meal) 97.7% and rice in (Dawn meal) 80.9%. One third (31.2%) indicated that it was due to relative lack of physical exercise in Ramadan and 14.5% referred that to increase in food consumption. Two thirds (65.2%) of those with increased expenditure reported weight gain.
Conclusion: Surprisingly weight gain and not weight loss was reported after Ramadan by Saudis which indicates timely needed life-style and dietary modification programs for a population which reports one of the highest prevalence rates of diabetes.