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Does religious fasting affect cognitive performance?

Wardah Mohd Yasin (International Islamic University Malaysia, Selayang, Malaysia)
Muhammad Muzaffar Ali Khan Khattak (International Islamic University Malaysia, Selayang, Malaysia)
Nik Mazlan Mamat (International Islamic University Malaysia, Selayang, Malaysia)
Wan Azdie Mohd Abu Bakar (International Islamic University Malaysia, Selayang, Malaysia)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 6 September 2013

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to assess the effect of religious fasting on the cognitive performance during the month of Ramadan among healthy fasting individuals.

Design/methodology/approach

30 students were recruited prior the month of Ramadan to compare their cognitive performance during and after fasting. The data on cognition score were collected in two phases during and after Ramadan on four occasions (two times in Ramadan and two times after Ramadan) using structured questionnaire. The level of cognition was assessed by using two approaches: mathematical problem solving and memory testing. Five questions of mathematical problem were given to the subjects and were different at each week. However, the level of difficulty was kept constant. The time and score were recorded for each respondent during and after fasting month. For the memory test, ten pictures of items of similar sizes were displayed for 30 seconds, and the subjects were asked to recall/list down the item shown in the pictures. The cognition scores were expressed as mean±SD, and repeated measures analysis test was used for differences in fasting and non‐fasting days.

Findings

As expected, during Ramadan meal frequency was lower and sleeping (nap) frequency was higher with shorter duration at night. The feeling of tiredness was higher compared to non‐fasting days. The level of cognition score for was not different during Ramadan compared to non‐fasting days. The result shows that the level of cognition is not affected in fasting.

Originality/value

The research shows that the cognition is not affected in Ramadan fasting.

Keywords

Citation

Mohd Yasin, W., Muzaffar Ali Khan Khattak, M., Mazlan Mamat, N. and Azdie Mohd Abu Bakar, W. (2013), "Does religious fasting affect cognitive performance?", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 43 No. 5, pp. 483-489. https://doi.org/10.1108/NFS-06-2012-0069

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited