About 60% of the UAE residents engage in exercise between one to three times per week for a healthy living, according to a study conducted by Zarca Interactive during the first quarter of 2014. This 10% increase reflects a growing awareness of health and fitness among the country’s population.
About 86% on which the study report was based – said they generally check the manufacturing and expiry of the products while 64% check the ingredients.
This is a marked improvement for a country, which has one of the highest density of obese population on earth, according to a report by the United Nations released last year that ranked populations in the Gulf among the world’s ‘fattest’. In the UAE, 33.7% of the population were identified as having serious weight problems.
“Compared to the previous study, there is a noticeable growing number of respondents who are getting physically more active and following a healthy lifestyle. There is a 10% increase of respondents between last study’s 50% and this study 60% who exercise one to three times per week, with 38% following a daily balanced diet and proper nutrition,” Javed Farooqui, Zarca Interactive Executive Director and Head Middle East and Africa, said, revealing the study report. “Of the most activities respondents prefer to regularly do are walking 65%, running 24%, Aerobics 19%, weight training 15% and swimming 11%,” Javed added.
About 44% of the respondents in the survey said they eat fried foods only during weekends while 12% never eat them, compared to last study’s 39% and 10% respectively. The study has revealed that of all the surveyed Gulf countries, UAE’s population is the highest in terms of active involvement and engagement in health and fitness campaigns. About 42% of respondents who answered the survey are actively participating in public and private health campaigns. Of the many health-related campaigns, respondents chose to actively participate in three campaigns, Diabetic health campaign (43%), Breast Cancer campaign (27%) and Anti- Obesity campaign (21%).
The 5th nation- wide online health independent study has been conducted since 2009 in the UAE, and has witnessed the participation of about 814 respondents across the seven emirates. The participants’ age group ranged between 16 and 55 years old across different gender split. The respondent base of the survey included 38% Asian Expats, 29% Arab Expats, 17% Emiratis and 9% Western expats.
Zarca Interactive, revealed the findings of its first quarter (Q1) health and fitness study for the UAE – using different social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc..), which indicates a surge in positive health trends being adopted by UAE residents as compared to the findings of the previous study.
As online media plays an important role in spreading health and fitness awareness, about 65% of respondents have mentioned that they mostly rely on online health and fitness websites as their main source of information keeping them up to date with health and nutrition topics. TV programs are the second source of health and fitness information among respondents, with about 57% of respondents heavily depending on them. About 32% of respondents rely on health and fitness magazines as the third source for health and fitness general knowledge.
Respondents in this quarter have shown better food consumption habits when it comes to their daily food intake, as more stress is being drawn to having a daily good mixture of foods (including carbohydrates, protein, fiber and fats). On a daily level, respondents have a good mix of high carbohydrate food (rice, pasta, bread, etc..,) 37%, leafy vegetables 21%, chicken 6% and beef 4%. Also, respondents are having a healthy trend when it comes to snacking between meals moving from sweets consumption 10% to more healthy options such as fruits 36% and nuts 11%.
“The study results have shown that the efforts that UAE Government has been investing over the past years, are reflected on the improved health and fitness behavior among Locals and Expats”, said Farooqui.
In this quarter, there is a visible change in respondents’ health and fitness behaviour, as the notion of regularly checking one’s weight, as well as the food nutrition value is progressing among other factors. About 63% of respondents regularly check and keep a record of their weights and 64% check the food nutrition value, and 86 checking the manufacturing and expiry dates. Also, more respondents are getting into the habit of looking up health related topics and information especially when it comes to nutrition and fitness (38%).
Going to the beach is the most favorite activity for most respondents especially during weekends (50%), plus some other outdoor activities with family and friends. Along the weekdays, some respondents have outlined that they take work with them home, as they don’t prefer to work during weekends (18%).
About 43% of respondents have expressed some concerns about the extra weight they have, with about 16% considering themselves obese. Of the respondents who consider themselves over weight 60% are males and they have shown enthusiastic change of behavior replacing a lazy/unhealthy lifestyle to a more energetic one with regular exercising and monitoring of food intake. Of the females who consider themselves overweight (40%), they have shown slight interest in converting their lazy lifestyle to a more dynamic one, as they have expressed interest in only walking as opposed to taking extra care of their food intake.