The battle against the bulge is an UAE phenomenon that could translate into real opportunity for manufacturers, according to a new study by Nielsen. Nielsen’s Global Health & Wellness Survey – that polled 30,000 online respondents in 60 countries to identify how consumers feel about their body image and the steps they’re taking to get healthier – indicates that 55% of the UAE respondents consider themselves overweight. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013, more than 66% of men and 60% of women in the UAE are overweight or obese. Nielsen’s study shows that consumers are attempting to take charge of their health – 63% are actively trying to lose weight and 83% are willing to pay more for foods with healthy attributes to some degree.
The obesity crisis and consumer desire to become healthier could be a growth driver for manufacturers who better align their offerings to consumer needs and desires for healthier food. Roughly 90% of UAE respondents believe they “are what they eat” and nearly 87% are actively using foods to forestall health issues and medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension.
“In the past, obesity was a sign of wealth in the Arab world. But the health awareness has changed into the right direction, which is a great opportunity for retailers and food manufacturers who can seize the opportunity now,” says Arslan Ashraf, managing director, Nielsen Arabian Peninsula. “Consumers in the Gulf region are willing to change for a healthier living and looking for every support they can get especially from health conscious food as exercising in the summer months in our region becomes more challenging.”