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UAE tops global survey in feeling healthy

Dubai, April 25, 2010

Residents of the UAE topped a worldwide survey in feeling healthy, according to global market research company Synovate.

The survey covered almost 12,000 people from across 15 countries – Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Korea, Netherlands Serbia, Spain, Taiwan, UAE, UK, USA – to understand attitudes towards healthy living, over the counter medications, the effectiveness of store label medications versus branded ones, and staying healthy when travelling.

Overall, the majority of respondents globally (60 per cent) feel in good health, with 13 per cent going as far as to say that they are in excellent health.  Respondents from the UAE led the pack, with 84 per cent considering themselves in good (49 per cent) or excellent (35 per cent) health, closely followed by Indonesia (82 per cent). Not all countries shared this healthy outlook, however. In particular, Korea and Taiwan have a different view, with only 37 per cent and 39 per cent respectively claiming to be in good or excellent health.

According to Per-Henrik Karlsson, Dubai-based business development director for Synovate in Central/Eastern Europe and the Middle East, being health-conscious is relatively new for many of the local and expatriate populations in the UAE.

'This means many people are less aware of what is healthy and unhealthy, so their standards may not be up to the same level as other countries. However, the UAE is considered to have excellent healthcare – the majority of locals and expats have private medical coverage and medical facilities are of the highest quality. This could contribute to people feeling they're in excellent or good health,' Karlsson said.

Respondents in all markets have a shared desire to improve their health, with 87% claiming to have taken action over the last 12 months to improve it. For UAE residents, the most popular course of action to improve health is eating more fruit and vegetables (69 per cent), followed by regular exercise (31 per cent), trying to lose weight (27 per cent), and taking vitamin supplements (23 per cent).

But when medication is required, what is at the top of shopping lists?  Cough / cold medicines (40 per cent) and pain relievers (38 per cent) were the top two medications bought over the counter by people globally in the last six months.

UAE residents are the top purchasers of pain relief medications, with 72 per cent having bought painkillers in the past six months. The UK (62 per cent) and Australia (61 per cent) are also big purchasers, while painkillers are least popular in Taiwan at only 10 per cent, followed by Hong Kong (15 per cent), and Chile (17 per cent).

As Karlsson explained, usage of such medicines is high as a preventive measure: 'Most people in the UAE tend to carry around over the counter painkillers and take them for even slight headaches, any signs of cold or flu, or other minor ailments. Headaches are common - most likely a result of a very hot climate outside combined with very cold air conditioning inside.'

Branded versus store label? This debate spans industries, not just the over the counter drug market. Not surprisingly, opinions are divided. Overall, 42 per cent  of respondents do not perceive store label over the counter products to be as effective as branded products (Spain at 71 per cent, UK and USA both 65 per cent). 

Conversely, nearly a third of people globally (27 per cent) do consider store label to be just as effective, led by the UAE at 52 per cent, then Chile (49 per cent) and Singapore (45 per cent).  Interestingly, however, despite that perception 86 per cent of UAE respondents prefer to use or give their families recognised brands.

The appeal of branded products is not surprising, explained Karlsson. “Brand consciousness is very high in Dubai – from the clothes you wear to the car you drive. So even when people believe a store label is just as effective, they still prefer to use recognised pharmaceutical brands.”

Synovate also asked respondents which over the counter medications they take with them when travelling, and the top three were:

1. Pain relievers (51 per cent) - UAE residents again rank number one (75 per cent), closely followed by The Netherlands with 73 per cent.
2. Gastrointestinal products (37 per cent) - Belgium was the highest with 66 per cent, followed by Korea with 53 per cent.
3. First aid products (35 per cent) - Chile was the highest with 70 per cent, double the global average, followed by Korea with 62 per cent.

“Because most people in the UAE carry around over the counter pain killers on a daily basis in case of a headache or other need, it’s only natural that they also take those medications with them on holiday,” added Karlsson.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: UAE | Middle East | Synovate | Survey | Healthcare | medical |

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