UAE: 39% Lower Smoking; 83% Wear Mask During Covid-19

Credit: Calvic Lim

Thirty-nine percent of smokers cut down on smoking during the Covid-19 ‘StayHome’ period and 83 percent of the people put on face masks and gloves when going out, a poll has revealed.

The survey was carried out by the Health Promotion Department (HPD) at the Supreme Council for Family Affairs Sharjah, in cooperation with the University of Sharjah. It aimed at investigating the impact of lockdown on dietary behaviour, lifestyle and health practices.

Enhanced awareness

The findings reflected people’s enhanced awareness during the pandemic, thanks to the precautionary and preventive measures adopted by the UAE government. The preliminary results showed that 98 percent of those surveyed believed that home isolation was a good way to protect their families and stop the spread of infectious disease outbreaks.

The poll found that 79 percent of respondents were keen to sterilise the purchased food items and 84 percent of those who have children at home encouraged them to carry out physical activity.

Lifestyle, dietary changes

Among the 2,060 participants who were surveyed, 66.7 percent were obese or overweight, 56.6 percent engaged in physical activity before home isolation and out of them, 30 percent reduced their activity after the lockdown. The percentage of people sleeping over seven hours increased from 63 to 70 percent since the lockdown, the survey disclosed.

As far as eating habits were concerned, 29.4 percent reported weight increase while 32 percent of the people increased their food intake during the Covid-19 ‘StayHome’ period. Besides, 62 percent increased their citrus intake and 50.2 percent their water consumption. Around 38.4 per cent started taking herbal teas, and 94 percent contended that extra intake of vitamins and minerals could strengthen the body against Covid-19, the study revealed.

It also demonstrated that 67.2 percent felt more stressed during the home isolation amid the lockdown, 42 percent of the respondents felt more irritated and angry than before, even as the majority believed that after lockdown, their lifestyle will improve.

Supporting national efforts

Iman Rashid Saif, HPD Director, said: “This study aims primarily to support the national efforts to fight Covid-19 pandemic by gauging the community awareness and developing solutions and recommendations to enhance people’s health awareness and the behaviours they have to adopt during the crisis.”

“It also aims to investigate to what extent the people are committed to healthy lifestyle, such as physical activity and diet, so that further steps could be taken in the future to improve their quality of life.”

Dr. Hadia Radwan, assistant professor, University of Sharjah, College of Health Sciences, pointed out: “The comprehensiveness of the data collected, as well as the timing of the study, clearly reflect the lifestyle practices of people during the pandemic which will have key implications on the health of community members.”

She added that adjusting lifestyles and dietary habits would help boost immunity system to combat viruses. “The findings of this study will be compared with the global data of nutrition and health to be used as a base for indepth future studies,” she said.