In this study, we conducted a meta-analysis of self-controlled cohort studies comparing body weights, blood levels of lipids and fasting blood glucose levels before and after Ramadan taking into account gender differences. Several databases were searched up to June 2012 for studies showing an effect of Ramadan fasting in healthy subjects, yielding 30 articles. The primary finding of this meta-analysis was that after Ramadan fasting, low-density lipoprotein (SMD = -1.67, 95 % CI = -2.48 to -0.86) and fasting blood glucose levels (SMD = -1.10, 95 % CI = -1.62 to -0.58) were decreased in both sex groups and also in the entire group compared to levels prior to Ramadan. In addition, in the female subgroup, body weight (SMD = -0.04, 95 % CI = -0.20, 0.12), total cholesterol (SMD = 0.05, 95 % CI = -0.51 to 0.60), and triglyceride levels (SMD = 0.03, 95 % CI = -0.31, 0.36) remained unchanged, while HDL levels (SMD = 0.86, 95 % CI = 0.11 to 1.61, p = 0.03) were increased. In males, Ramadan fasting resulted in weight loss (SMD = -0.24, 95 % CI = -0.36, -0.12, p = 0.001). Also, a substantial reduction in total cholesterol (SMD = -0.44, 95 % CI = -0.77 to -0.11) and LDL levels (SMD = -2.22, 95 % CI = -3.47 to -0.96) and a small decrease in triglyceride levels (SMD = -0.35, 95 % CI = -0.67 to -0.02) were observed in males. In conclusion, by looking at this data, it is evident that Ramadan fasting can effectively change body weight and some biochemical parameters in healthy subjects especially in males compared to pre-Ramadan period.
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