Dubai: Most people in the Middle East spend more money in Ramadan, mainly on food and groceries, a new survey suggests.

According to the Ramadan consumer behaviour study by market research company YouGov, the top purchases among respondents who spend more are food and groceries (71 per cent) followed by clothing (47 per cent).

Interestingly, utility bills are the third most prevalent item respondents spend more money on during Ramadan (20 per cent).

The research was conducted online among 3,288 residents — of whom 2,789 fast — in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) between May 28 and June 8.

Their increased Ramadan spending power is perhaps linked to the fact that 57 per cent of all respondents claim they save throughout the year for Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr.

Most Mena residents (62 per cent) say fasting is easy, despite living in a hot climate where Ramadan falls in summer this year. Nearly half (46 per cent) also claim their productivity at work is not affected.

Only a third of respondents said their lifestyle changes completely, with most people saying their lifestyle remains largely unchanged.

Unsurprisingly, the majority (78 per cent) pray more during the spiritual month. More than two-thirds choose to stay in their country of residence and two-thirds spend more time with family throughout Ramadan.

When it comes to health and exercise, 65 per cent of those fasting claim they don’t follow a regular exercise regime. Of those that do exercise regularly (35 per cent), nearly half choose to exercise less during Ramadan.

The average exercise time reduces from 43 minutes outside of Ramadan to 29 minutes during Ramadan.

When asked to express any health-related problems suffered during the month, the highest proportion of fasting respondents claim they suffer from headaches (29 per cent). Heart burn was the next most prevalent health problem (16 per cent), followed by dehydration (13 per cent).

Generally speaking, there are no drastic changes to respondents’ eating habits during Ramadan, the survey shows. Forty-four per cent claim they eat the same amount, eat the same food (49 per cent) and maintain the same weight (57 per cent).