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Many say spend most time watching TV or phone talk – Diet, exercise top issues list

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 9: The last month of the calendar year is a time for reflection and introspection for many. In this week’s Arab Times online poll, readers shared the habits that they have a hard time quitting, from spending too much time on their phones and watching television to matters of health and personal finance. Sometimes habits seem benign, not affecting our lives too much. While at other times, they can become dangerous and have lasting ramifications.

The majority, 30 percent of respondents, shared that they spent too much time watching television or on their mobile phones. According to a six nation survey conducted by Northwestern University in Qatar on Media Use in the Middle East in 2015, it was found that people in the region use a variety of media that includes an approximate 19 hours a week of television and 26 hours of internet usage per week. It is no surprise that diet and exercise are on the top of the list for many as an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity are leading global risks to health.

According to the World health organisation the increased production of processed food, rapid urbanization and changing lifestyles have led to a shift in dietary patterns; people are now consuming more foods high in energy, fats, free sugars or sodium, and many do not eat enough fruit, vegetables and dietary fibre such as whole grains. 8 percent of readers felt that they had little control over their snacking habits, with many confessing to munching grub even when not hungry and another 6 percent revealed that consumption of fast food was the prime area of their struggle.

Another 10 percent shared that skipping breakfast was a pattern they’d like to kick. 10 percent of voters felt that diminished physical activity and depending on their automobiles for even short walking distance was bothersome. According to a study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, habits are incredibly hard to break as they become rooted in our brains as habitual activity changes neural activity patterns in a specific region of the brain.

The study also suggests that while these neural patterns created by habit can be changed or altered, when a stimulus returns, the dormant pattern can reassert itself. 19 percent felt that they had trouble letting go of behaviour that left them angry, worried, or stressed all of the time. Another 11 percent felt that curbing their urges for alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking was a difficult task. According to research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, the number of daily cigarette smokers in the Middle East has increased due to population growth.

The data counts Kuwait among the countries with the combination of high smoking prevalence and cigarette consumption as smokers in Kuwait consumed an average of 22 cigarettes daily in 2012. 6 percent felt that overspending and poor financial choices that lead to debt was the most pressing concern in their lives.

By Cinatra Fernandes Arab Times Staff

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