Lunch is for wimps

UK plc is making its own contribution to the obesity problem - by scaring workers off their lunch.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

A massive 80% of UK workers are now taking less than 30 minutes for their lunch break, according to a survey by Reed Employment, while a third of us are choosing to skip lunch altogether. Gone are the days when long lunches used to be the highlight of the day – now almost half of the workforce apparently feels guilty if they take a full hour...

What’s more, it may well be your fault. More than half of the 5,000 workers surveyed reported that there wasn’t a culture of taking proper breaks in their offices – and if they don’t see their bosses taking the full hour, they worry that it might be frowned upon if they do.

Of course the nose-to-the-grindstone-brigade may be delighted to hear this – after all, that means you’re squeezing more productivity out of your staff, right? Unfortunately, it might not work like that. Countless studies have shown that exercise improves people’s mental and physical health - thereby increasing their effectiveness at work – but only about a third of us are now bothering to go outside for a bit of fresh air or to run some errands (the proportion who brave the gym was even smaller: a meagre 2%).

Instead, an increasing number of us don’t even bother going outside for lunch, preparing to scoff our sandwiches in front of our computers while surfing the internet – which is bad for our brains as well as our waistlines. Personally, we blame Facebook (and with the social networking site about to launch its new look, things might not get better any time soon...)

Although you’d never have guessed from Subway’s recent results, lunch sellers may be a casualty of our new shortened lunchtimes (not to mention our straitened economic times). The survey found that only an indulgent 17% would spend their money eating in local cafes or restaurants, whereas a thrifty 43% bring their own lunch to the office everyday (81% said they would never shell out more than £5 - we should hope not).

It seems to us there's only one conclusion to draw from all this: in the interests of our own wellbeing, staff productivity and local traders’ prosperity, we need to be taking far more long lunches. Go on, take one for the team...

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