Ramadan course means Muslims with type 2 diabetes can fast safely

Muslims in Leicester with type 2 diabetes who are planning to fast during Ramadan are being given the chance to learn how to do it safely as part of a new course.

The religious holiday will start around May 7, 2019, and those observing the month-long festival are usually required to abstain from eating from dawn to sunset.

However, for some people with type 2 diabetes, fasting can be dangerous because it can lead to low blood sugar levels, otherwise known as hypoglycaemia, and also dehydration.

To help people manage their condition better, the Leicester Diabetes Centre has developed a course called A Safer Ramadan, which is open to everyone with type 2 diabetes across the city who wishes to observe the holy month. 

Professor Khunti, who is Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester and is also a Co-Director at the Leicester Diabetes Centre, said: “Fasting is associated with a seven-fold increased risk of severe hypoglycaemia and hospitalisation during Ramadan, which represents a medical challenge for those with diabetes and their healthcare providers.

“Finding a safe way to manage type 2 diabetes during the fasting period is a crucial part of protecting health, while also easing the impact on the NHS.

“Safer Ramadan is a structured education course, which has been developed to meet the specific needs of Muslims with type 2 diabetes who wish to observe Ramadan.”

Leicester is a multicultural city with a high population of South Asian people. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes among ethnic minority communities is steadily increasing, which is why the Leicester Diabetes Centre developed the course.

Professor Melanie Davies CBE, Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester and Co-Director of the Leicester Diabetes Centre, said: “A Safer Ramadan is an exciting initiative which aims to support people with type 2 diabetes who wish to fast safely during the holy month. It also helps raise awareness of the importance of safer fasting among the local community and healthcare providers.

“We’ve carried out research looking at the impact of our structured education course and we found those with diabetes who fasted had a fourfold increase in suffering from hypoglycaemia. However, those who attended A Safer Ramadan had a significant decrease in this diabetes-related complication.

“I urge anyone – no matter what age – who has type 2 diabetes and is hoping to observe Ramadan to attend our course. Religion is important, but so is your health. Here, we’ve found a way that people can combine the two, but safely.  It will also give really useful advice about diabetes care that is relevant all year round.”

The Leicester Diabetes Centre is a partnership and collaboration between Leicester’s Hospitals and the University of Leicester.

To sign up to the course, please call the Leicester Diabetes Centre on 0116 258 8989 or email us on asaferramadan@uhl-tr.nhs.uk.