Effect of periodic religious fasting on body composition and nutrient intake in menopausal women
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Department of Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics, School of Health Sciences, International Hellenic University, Thessaloniki, Greece
Preventive Medicine and Nutrition Clinic, Department of Social Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Crete, Herakleion, Greece
Publication date: 2022-05-27
Corresponding author
Anna Kokkinopoulou   

Department of Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics, School of Health Sciences, International Hellenic University, GR-57400, Sindos, Thessaloniki, Greece
Public Health Toxicol 2022;2(Supplement Supplement 1):A98
Studies regarding health effects of religious fasting have been increased during the last decade. Our aim was to investigate whether adherence to the, primarily plant-based, periodic fasting according to the Christian Orthodox Church (COC) recommendations has an impact on body composition and nutrient intake in menopausal women.

Ninety-one women aged 60.46±5.9 years from Northern Greece participated in this cross-sectional study. Two in three women abstained from red meat and its products, poultry, dairy products and eggs for approximately half of the year. Socioeconomic data, lifestyle habits and physical activity data were collected using validated questionnaires. Nutritional assessment was performed through two 24hr recalls and a Food Frequency Questionnaire. Height, weight, waist and hip circumference, body composition via bioelectric impedance and resting metabolic rate were measured.

Menopausal women who followed the COC fasting recommendations had statistically significant lower carbohydrate intake (173.74 vs 240.98 gr, p=0.039), lower total sugar (61.47 vs 99.8 gr, p=0.010), lower fat (64.83 vs 78.72 gr, p=0.050) and lower saturated fat (17.86 vs 22.21 gr, p=0.046) intake, when comparing to those who did not follow any specific dietary abstinence. Groups did not differ in vitamin and mineral intake (p>0.05). Anthropometric measurements, including body weight, body fat, trunk fat and resting metabolic rate did not have a statistically significant difference (p=0.270, p=0.226, p=0.196 and p=0.680 respectively).

Menopausal women who adhere to the COC fasting regime for approximately half of the year, follow a plant-based food dietary pattern characterized by lower carbohydrate, protein and fat intake, when comparing to non-fasters. Despite this, periodic abstinence from red and white meat, dairy products and eggs had no effect on nutrient intake and anthropometrics.

Kokkinopoulou A, Kafatos A. Impact of Christian Orthodox Church dietary recommendations on metabolic syndrome risk factors: a scoping review. Nutr Res Rev. 2021:1-15. doi:10.1017/S0954422421000184
Kokkinopoulou A, Pagkalos I, Hassapidou M, Kafatos A. Dietary Patterns in Adults Following the Christian Orthodox Fasting Regime in Greece. Front Nutr. 2022;9:803913. doi:10.3389/fnut.2022.803913
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