It is abundantly clear that the obesity epidemic has affected most countries in the Middle East more severely [1, 2, 3•, 4, 5]. It is disconcerting that increases in the rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes continue unabated in spite of great efforts at sounding the alarm of the health costs—suggesting that the manyconferences,scientificarticles,andpublicalertshaveso far had little impact in changing lifestyle choices.
Another approach is to harness the health and spiritual benefits of obligatory and voluntary religious fasts, which are routinely practiced in the Middle East, as an added means of producing lasting lifestyle changes that will ultimately lead to improved health outcomes. Fasting is an age-old practice that has been prescribed in many religions and requires caloric restrictions of various durations and formats [6, 7]. Examples of religious fasting regimens are shown in Table 1. We review the mechanisms by which periodic caloric restriction, through obligatory and voluntary fasts, can lead to improved health outcomes.