A YouGov survey of more than 1,000 people in the UAE found men were more likely to eat out than women. Alamy

Men have overtaken women when it comes to counting calories and paying closer attention to what they eat, a new UAE survey has found. A YouGov survey of more than 1,000 Emiratis found men were more likely to eat out than women, and also more likely to Google a menu’s calorie content.

The most frequent diners in the UAE are married men without children, with 72 per cent eating out regularly, the research found. Overall, 65 per cent of residents said they ate out at least once a week, with 28 per cent of men admitting to checking the calories in their meals compared with 19 per cent of women.

“We are seeing some positive steps here in the UAE, with a high percentage of diners showing a keen interest in monitoring their food consumption. Balance in your diet is key and with fast food being so heavily advertised in this part of the world it is positive to see that although respondents don’t quite want to step away from dining in quick service restaurants, they do want to be aware of the calories they are consuming. It definitely shows steps towards making healthier choices,” said Kerry McLaren, head of YouGov Omnibus, which compiled the research.

A little under two-thirds of respondents told the survey they dined at fast food restaurants or casual dining outlets. Young people aged 18-24 were most likely to eat out, with singles and men also topping the list of restaurant diners.

A recent survey by Oman Insurance Company found up to 62 per cent of people living in the UAE may be overweight. Results from a health risk assessment of more than 3,000 people found men were more likely to be overweight than women, with Pakistani residents the most overweight compared with other nationalities.

In 2017, authorities in Dubai launched an initiative to encourage all restaurants to display calorie counts in every dish served. Although many restaurants adopted the strategy to encourage healthier choices, not all outlets signed up. The idea is a move almost half of the YouGov survey respondents said they would welcome to help them make more informed choices when dining out.

The survey found 43 per cent would prefer restaurants displaying calories on the entire menu, while a quarter recommend restaurants having a separate ‘low calorie’ section, without showing the calorie count.

“It is interesting to see some breaks in stereotype between the genders when it comes to monitoring your calorie intake. We are programmed to think that women are the more calories conscious gender when actually these results show men stepping forward as the ones who would like to be openly mindful of what they are consuming,” Ms McLaren said.

Source: The National