Obesity in the GCC a ‘serious health issue’

November 27, 2013 6:30 am

Fifty six per cent eats outside on a weekly basis, YouGov survey reveals

A recent survey conducted by YouGov reveals that 85 per cent of online respondents in the GCC region consider obesity a serious health issue in their country of residence, indicating a high level of awareness regarding the growing health problem.

The GCC region ranks among the world’s most obese regions, according to a report issued by the United Nations in July 2013.

The majority (85 per cent) of online respondents agreed that diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension and high cholesterol are also serious health problems in their country of residence and women are more likely to identify these diseases as a threat than men.

In an effort to reduce obesity rates, many countries in the GCC region are launching initiatives to reduce obesity among their populations. ‘Your Weight in Gold’, a weight loss challenge launched by the Dubai Municipality, awarded AED2.8 million in gold to winners based on how much weight they lost.

Despite such initiatives, attitudes towards nutrition remain problematic among online respondents in the GCC region, along with eating habits. For example, 56 per cent said that to eat out in a restaurant/café or fast food outlet at least once per week, a significantly higher percentage, when compared with online respondents in North Africa (43 per cent) and Levant (38 per cent).

Also, when discussing health-related attributes, such as: ‘I pay careful attention to what I eat’, ‘I believe food can be healthy and tasty at same time’ and ‘taking care of my health is a priority for me’, a lower proportion of online respondents in the GCC region seem to be health conscious, when compared with those from North Africa and the Levant.

Fina Robles, healthcare research specialist at YouGov, says, “The results show us that most of the residents of GCC countries are aware of the serious consequences that obesity and cardiovascular diseases bring to their health. However, despite this understanding, their lifestyles and eating habits do not reflect that, as many continue to enjoy the pleasures of fast food on a weekly basis. It appears, therefore, that there’s a need for training on good healthy habits and benefits, instead of limiting health campaigns to the awareness and consequences of obesity”

The survey was conducted using the YouGov Online Panel May 2013 to August 2013. The results are based on a total sample of 28,926 respondents living across the GCC region, the Levant, North Africa and Asia. Countries include:  The GCC region – Bahrain , Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi and the UAE; the Levant – Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Syria and Jordan; North Africa – Libya, Tunisia, Sudan, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt; and Asia – Pakistan and India. The YouGov panel is broadly representative of the online population within these regions.