The daily onslaught of fast food adverts are making it harder for many GCC consumers to make healthy decisions about their diet, according to a new survey.
Close to half of GCC respondents (45 percent) said they are being exposed to fast food advertisements every day, which makes it harder for the consumer to not sway towards less healthy options.
This number is highest in Kuwait (67 percent), a country that currently charts at highest incidence of obesity in the Middle East, according to figures in the survey by YouGov Omnibus.
Previously, less than a fifth of GCC respondents consumed fast food at least once a week. However, when looking at the impact on this number post exposure to advertising, two out of five people claim they are doing so after watching an ad on TV.
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Half of GCC respondents indicated they are concerned about fast food advertising on television but there are vast differences between neighbouring countries.
In the UAE, more than 60 percent of the respondents are concerned while in Kuwait and Oman over 60 percent say they are either indifferent or not concerned at all.
Around three quarters of respondents indicated being concerned about children’s exposure to fast food TV advertising, with close to a quarter (23 percent) indicating their child asks for fast food after watching these ads.
The survey said four in five people think children should be exposed to less fast food advertising on TV while 87 percent said that TV advertising impacts children’s current food choices, and also believe that if children are exposed to fast food ads at a young age, it will affect their food choices in the future.
Eighty percent of people think there should be laws regulating fast food advertising in the hours when children are most likely to watch TV, the survey showed.
Although most people in the region are aware of the ill effects from eating fast food, the consumption remains high, especially after watching these ads, it added.
Kerry McLaren, head of YouGov Omnibus, MENA, said: “YouGov data shows that although people are aware of the adverse effects of eating fast food and show general concern in lack of controls around its advertising, there is no direct resistance in overall consumption of fast food.
“In today’s society there is an expectation to be increasingly conscious of what we put in our bodies and yet this is not reflected in the communication we receive. Obesity rates are increasing, especially in the Middle East, so it is important for brands to be more responsible in their messaging and the imagery used in advertisements as it can have a significant impact on the food choices consumers make.”
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