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F&B brands take note: UAE residents put on weight in COVID-19 year and they aren’t happy about it

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Weight gain
UAE residents were having some weight issues to contend with over the last 12 months. It was set off by lifestyle changes, not least of which was the tendency to indulge in frequent snacking between meals. F&B brands must pay attention – a blow back could be on the way.
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Dubai: UAE’s food brands and F&B businesses be warned – the country’s residents could be intent on shedding some of the pounds they put on during these COVID-19-infested months.

A new survey finds that just over half of the population confessed to having gained in weight during the pandemic – and the average increase is a substantial 8 per cent or thereabouts. But there’s another side to this – “67 per cent of UAE residents attempted to lose weight during the one year period,” said Cynthia Bou Khalil, Clinical Manager at Allurion, which conducted the poll.

“But 7 out of 10 of them failed, either completely or by gaining weight back. Besides lack of consistency in following diets or exercising, the feeling of hunger played a key role in the failure.”

Part of the symptom

Many would say at a time when individuals and society were confronting life-and-death concerns over COVID-19, putting on a few kilos should be the least of anyone’s concerns. But increased frequency of snacking are all part of the symptoms of increased stress people have been dealing with.

The poll finds that “one of the most increased activities during the pandemic was snacking – with 53 per cent of the UAE residents snacking more frequently between meals. The result is 47 per cent eat more than they used to do before the pandemic. Weight is the second personal aspect about which UAE residents are less happy and just behind their financial situation.”

Back into shape

Two out of three UAE residents intend to lose weight this summer and by a significant amount – 10.3 kg on average, according to the Allurion poll. “Therefore F&B choices – healthy options and portion control – will be looked at carefully by the consumer,” says Cynthia Bou Khalil.

F&B takes note

Food brands and the businesses behind them are taking notice. There has been a marked increase in interest for locally sourced – and healthier – eating options. Restaurants too, at least the fine-dining ones, are serving up options that sit more lightly on waists. Niche healthy snacking F&B options too have sprouted.

Will all these be enough to get residents to cut down on the snacking? “Managing food consumption and dietary options alone is not always the solution for many people and they need extra support,” said Cynthia. “Many need support and this support can’t wait. We must all be aware of the close relationship between excess weight and the risk of complications with COVID-19 – this is not to be understated.

“With this in mind, many need to find a solution that will boost their weight loss, motivate them and also make sure that when the weight is lost it is then maintained – their habits must become part of their new lifestyle.”

There are increasing options/places to get locally sourced fruits and vegetables – you can shop fresh, supporting local farmers and food suppliers in the UAE at organic supermarkets or via the large number of food delivery companies that will bring healthy food, either cooked or ready to prepare, direct to doorstep.

– Cynthia Bou Khalil, Clinical Manager at Allurion

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