Lunch crisis hits British health

May 02 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Workaholic Britons take an average lunch break of only 35 minutes. More than four out of ten workers don't manage to take lunch break every day while almost one in five - 18 per cent - never take time out for lunch.

In contrast, the lunch break is still sacrosanct in most of the rest of Europe. In Mediterranean countries lunch is an opportunity to have a meal out with friends or to go home for a meal and a siesta, and workers will often be away from their desks for two hours or more.

In Britain, however, not only are we working longer hours than ever before, but we are also neglecting our diets and our health by taking ever-shorter lunch breaks and less exercise. With so much pressure to eat quickly, people are using energy-dense convenience foods they can eat quickly and easily at their desks and they don't have time to counteract that by taking a walk.

Now new research by Mintel has found increasing consumption of savory snacks, with people in the UK munching their way through an astonishing £43 million-worth of savory snacks per year. This is over three times the amount consumed by the French and any other European country.

These foods tend to have a high fat content and take far longer to digest. They increase drowsiness and can also contain higher levels of salt than recommended as a daily requirement.

Do you get a regular lunch break or do you feel pressurised to grab something on the run? And how can UK workplaces get over their macho, long-hours obsession and encourage workers to take breaks and eat properly? Let us know what you think.