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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Effects of Greek orthodox christian church fasting on serum lipids and obesity

Katerina O Sarri*, Nikolaos E Tzanakis, Manolis K Linardakis, George D Mamalakis and Anthony G Kafatos

Author affiliations

Department of Social Medicine, University of Crete, School of Medicine, P.O Box 1393, Iraklion 71110, Crete, Greece

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2003, 3:16  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-3-16

Published: 16 May 2003

Abstract

Background

No study to date has focused on the impact of Greek Orthodox Christian fasting on serum lipoproteins and obesity yet.

Methods

120 Greek adults were followed longitudinally for one year. Sixty fasted regularly in all fasting periods (fasters) and 60 did not fast at all (controls). The three major fasting periods under study were: Christmas (40 days), Lent (48 days) and Assumption (August, 15 days). A total of 6 measurements were made during one year including pre- and end-fasting blood collection, serum lipoprotein analyses and anthropometric measurements.

Results

Statistically significant end-fasting total and LDL cholesterol differences were found in fasters. Fasters compared to controls presented 12.5% lower end-total cholesterol (p < 0.001), 15.9% lower end-LDL cholesterol (p < 0.001) and 1.5% lower end-BMI (p < 0.001). The end- LDL/HDL ratio was lower in fasters (6.5%, p < 0.05) while the change in end- HDL cholesterol in fasters (4.6% decline) was not significant. Similar results were found when the pre- and end-fasting values of fasters were compared. No change was found in control subjects.

Conclusions

Adherence to Greek Orthodox fasting periods contributes to a reduction in the blood lipid profile including a non-significant reduction in HDL cholesterol and possible impact on obesity.

Keywords:
Greek Orthodox Christian; religion; fasting; effect; serum lipids