Diabetes and Ramadan

21st March 2023

Ramadan in 2023 will run from on or around Wednesday 22 March for 29 or 30 days, ending with Eid al-Fitr, a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide.

During the holy month of Ramadan, the Qur’an requires Muslims to fast from sunrise to sunset. However, there are exceptions to this if someone is ill or has medical conditions that could make fasting dangerous to their health. This can include people living with diabetes.    

If you are living with diabetes and considering fasting during Ramadan, we would encourage you to speak to your healthcare team first to review how well you are managing your diabetes and discuss if and how you can fast safely. 

Making the decision to fast is ultimately a personal choice and understanding the level of health risk is an important step to make sure that fasting can be done safely. The level of health risk can depend on factors such as: 

  • the type of diabetes you are living with  
  • your average blood sugar level (HbA1C) range
  • if you take any types of medication such as insulin   
  • any other diabetes complications such as poor vision, nerve damage, heart or kidney disease that could make fasting particularly dangerous.  

Dr Clare Hambling, GP Clinical Lead for Diabetes for Norfolk and Waveney ICB commented, “Ramadan is an important time for Muslims all around the world, and the Muslim community will be looking forward to fasting during this holy month. Muslims who are living with diabetes and are considering fasting should speak to their healthcare team in good time to make sure they have the correct advice about managing their diabetes to ensure they can fast safely.

“Some medications can put you at serious risk of low blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia) with fasting, so it is important for you to understand what to do with your medications and to be aware of the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar, and to test your blood sugars more often during fasting. 

“Diabetes UK have prepared comprehensive guidance for people living with diabetes who are observing Ramadan. This guidance also contains information for Imams on how to advise their congregation on seeking further advice from their healthcare providers.”