Body Composition Changes Following Lenten Fasting: A Study in Ethiopia

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Addis Ababa University, College of Health Sciences, Department of Physiology

2 Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, Debre Berhan, University, Ethiopia

3 Department of Physiology, College of Health Sciences, Haramaya, University, Harar, Ethiopia

4 Department of Biomedical Sciences, Institute of Health, Jimma University, Jimma, Ethiopia


Introduction: The Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) Lenten fasting (Abiy Tsom) is a seven-week period of fasting before Easter. It is a religious fasting practice, which has been less documented in the scientific literature. The present study aimed to investigate effect of EOC fasting with vegan diet practices on body composition parameters. Methods: This prospective study was conducted on 98 subjects (40 females and 58 males) aged 18-40 years, who were willing for Lenten fasting for seven weeks. Several parameters were evaluated and measured, including body weight, height, waist circumference, hip circumference, body mass index (BMI), and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). In addition, body fat percentage (BF %) was determined based on skinfold thickness at three sites, including the abdomen, triceps, and suprailiac using a caliper (Holtian Ltd., UK). Results: Weight, BMI, BF%, and fat mass significantly decreased (P< 0.05) during eight weeks of Lenten fasting compared to eight weeks after fasting. The male subjects experienced a more significant reduction in this regard compared to the female subjects. Conclusion: According to the results, adherence to the Lenten diet (vegan diet) decreased anthropometric and body composition parameters more significantly compared to regular mixed diets, which could be potentially associated with improved cardiometabolic health.


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