Residents of Bahrain have become more health conscious, according to an online study by Zarca Interactive, which shows that 44% of respondents exercise between one to three times per week which is a slight increase compared to previous studies. The most favorite fitness activities among respondents are walking 82% (especially among females), aerobics 23% and running15% (especially among males).
The study shows that there is a positive trend towards non smoking. The number of non- smokers has increased significantly by 22% when compared to previous study. Among the respondents in the current study, 87% are non smokers. The shift to replace smoking as an entertaining activity during stressful times, has taken a new dimension by focusing on more healthy activities such as going to the gym 11% or watching TV 18%.
Dr. Amal Al Jowder, Director of Health Promotion at the Ministry of Health in Bahrain, said, “since Zarca Interactive conducted the study in 2009, we are witnessing a great improvement in respondents’ health and fitness lifestyle. Many respondents have adopted healthy lifestyle behaviors such as not smoking, weight control, physical activity, and a healthy diet. This change happened through the extensive efforts the Ministry of Health Bahrain has been implementing to boost the health awareness levels through different campaigns and communication vehicles.”
This study was conducted using Zarca Interactive’s online technology, and different social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc..), which revealed that the awareness of the importance of having a healthy living as well healthy eating habits is on the rise among Bahraini residents. The 5th nation- wide online health survey witnessed the participation of about 501 respondents across different governorates from different nationalities with majority being Bahraini citizens between group of 16 years and 55 years and older with 39% males and 61% females.
“We have been partnering with Zarca Interactive to conduct this nation- wide online study, and the findings have greatly shaped and supported our plans to create and enforce the concept of a healthy living in the Kingdom of Bahrain,” Dr. Amal said.
The study also revealed that TV programs are still the main source of information when it comes to health and fitness knowledge and awarenessas about 74% of respondents prefer to get health related information through them. The use of online media is gradually picking up with 69% to be the second source of information especially among young respondents. Print media such as magazines are the third source of health and fitness information with about 28% especially among females.
“By actively participating in our efforts that we undertook across GCC, Ministry of Health Bahrain helped us to reach out more respondents for better insights. We are sure that these findings will also help the Ministry to understand and better plan their future health and fitness campaigns,” said Javed Farooqui, Zarca Interactive Executive Director & Head Middle East and Africa. He further added, “There is a direct co-relation between health and fitness with happiness. As the report shows that Bahraini residents are becoming more health conscious and this will have a positive impact on the country’s ranking in the global happiness index. We are glad to deploy the right technology to gauge the health of a nation. Zarca’s online feedback technology is capable of measuring anything and could help stakeholders to make well informed decisions.”
Zarca Interactive has been conducting periodic studies since 2009, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility. The objectives of these studies are to measure health and fitness habits of GCC citizens and residents, and to bring to light solutions which impact the national programs carried out by the Ministry of Health and other government and civil institutions.
More respondents are becoming health conscious especially when it comes to adopting healthy eating habits. Majority of respondents 64% have expressed that a daily healthy diet should comprise of a balanced intake of carbohydrates, protein and low fats. About 54% of respondents prefer to have high carbohydrate food daily such as rice, pasta, bread, etc, followed by fresh fruits and vegetables about 31% and 30% respectively. Many respondents prefer to frequently consume chicken (74%) over seafood 56% and meat 44%.
More respondents are getting involved in public and private related health and fitness campaigns, as about 24% have participated in some of them. There are two main health campaigns that have shown high involvement of participants. The first is the diabetic campaign with about 54% of respondents having an active role in it. The second one is the anti obesity campaign with about 51% of respondents participating in it.
The practice of checking one’s health condition on a regular basis has increased in this quarter, with more respondents keeping a regular monitor on their health. About 59% of respondents have said that they check their weights regularly and about 23% of them personally monitor their blood pressure. For many, the regular check up with doctors takes place every 6 months. About 17% of respondents visit their dentists once every six months, and 14% visiting their General Practitioner for general medical checkup which is higher compared to last year’s 5% of respondents visiting their GP.
Majority of respondents stick to three meals a day nutrition plan, with main focus on having a healthy breakfast. About 79% of respondents have breakfast on a daily basis, with main focus being on coffee and tea 79%, dairy products 56%, eggs 42% and cereals 22%.