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Zarca Interactive’s health and fitness study reflects major shift in lifestyle amongst the population of Qatar

Increased health and fitness awareness has resulted in a decline of obesity as more and more residents of Qatar shift to a healthier lifestyle, according to the latest health and fitness study conducted by Zarca Interactive.

The percentage of people opting for a healthy lifestyle nearly doubled to 40% in Qatar during this study, compared to 21% surveyed in a previous study. Also, the obesity has declined to 16% compared to 22% in their previous study.

This reflects a major shift in lifestyle amongst the population of Qatar, a third of which are obese, according to a report by the United Nations released last year that ranked populations in the Gulf among the world’s ‘fattest’.

“Almost 70% of respondents have moved from an unbalanced diet to a more balanced one with proper nutrition, a major shift from our previous studies,” said Javed Farooqui, Zarca Interactive Executive Director and Head Middle East and Africa.

More and more respondents are integrating physical activities into their daily routine reflecting on improved health conditions. About 58% of respondents exercise between one to three times per week. The most favorite fitness activities among respondents are walking 70%, running 25% and weight training 23% among males.

About 72% of respondents prefer to surf the internet to have more information about health and fitness topics compared to 66% who prefer to watch health and fitness TV programs. Some respondents, about 19%, find the information on products’ packs very informative and can be a good source for health information as they have good tips. Zarca Interactive, a leading provider of next generation information gathering and data analysis technology, conducted this study –during last quarter of 2013using different social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc).

The 5th nation- wide online health independent study has been conducted since 2009 in Qatar witnessed the participation of about 129 respondents across different cities. The participants’ age group ranged between 16 and 55 years old across different gender split. The respondent base of the survey included different nationalities, with majority being Qatar citizens and Arab expatriates.

“Zarca’s health and fitness study results have shown that as the country is investing in sponsoring many public health campaigns, there is a noticeable increase in the number of respondents who are getting consciously aware of the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle combined with getting physically active and fit,” Farooqui said. “Many respondents are changing major eating habits reducing junk food intake and replacing it with eating healthy food such as fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products,” he added.

The level of involvement in public and private health and fitness campaigns is gradually increasing as about 35% of respondents are actively taking a role in them. About 53% of respondents have participated in the obesity campaign, compared to about 27% participating in the diabetic campaign and 7% participating in breast cancer campaign.

About 63% of respondents have expressed that healthy eating should comprise of a mixture of carbohydrates, protein and fats. Also, about 42% of respondents prefer to consume low – fat food options, especially when it comes to dairy products. Fruits are considered to be the most important daily component for a healthy diet, as about 63% of respondents consume them on a daily level. Other daily food options for respondents include high carbohydrate food such as rice, pasta, bread, etc, at about 35%, leafy vegetables 35%, chicken 12% and nuts 14%.

Following up on regular health check – ups is a trend that is still picking up among respondents, as most respondents prefer to do it on an annual level rather than every three or six months. About 49% of respondents regularly visit their dentist every year for a general checkup, compared to 42% who do the same with their GP. The trend to visit a dietitian to regularly check one’s weight is still at minimum as only 4% of respondents have such visits between three to six months.

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.