Pope Benedict XVI is asking Catholics to rediscover the spiritual meaning of fasting during the upcoming period of Lent.
The Vatican released the pope's Lent message Tuesday.
He writes that fasting has become fashionable for health reasons. But he says the real reason to deny yourself food and drink is to get closer to God's word and become aware that many people have nothing.
Pope Benedict also urged followers to encourage others to pray and help the needy during Lent.
Lent is the 40 day period before Easter. The first day of Lent is called Ash Wednesday and begins this year on February 25.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.