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Lunch hour extinction ‘supersizes’ workers

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Failure to allocate time to ‘lunch’ is having a toll on workers waistlines as more and more reach for sugary snacks to plug the hunger gap.

Recruitment firm Pertemps quizzed 500 workers and found that nearly one in five took no lunch break whatsoever while 13% admitted to eating a ‘quick’ sandwich at their desk.

Despite most workers being allocated a contractual hour for lunch, the lunch break period has fallen to just 28 minutes, a drop of nearly a quarter over the past five years.

While the fashion for eating a wholesome meal at lunch is on the wane, the research shows that workers are satisfying their hunger pangs with unhealthy snacks.

Nearly one in three admitted that they regularly succumbed to something sweet and naughty with their afternoon tea, with biscuits, chocolate, cake and doughnuts among the nation’s favourite indulgences. By contrast, just seven per cent said they opted for ‘healthy’ alternatives like fruit and nuts.

Hunger was given as the reason for snacking by one in three while more than half admitted that they needed a sugar fix to get them through the afternoon.

Jan Para, a director of Pertemps said: “The demands of the job are making it more and more tempting to work through lunch, and either grab a quick bite at the desk or simply go without.

“But this can be counterproductive, as not eating properly can leave workers drained and hence not as effective.”

Para advises bosses to help workers on the path to better health by offering free fruit.

In further evidence of workers drift to poor health, research reported by HRZone in November reported that liquid lunches are back in fashion. Survey evidence showed that 68% of respondents admitted to enjoying an alcoholic drink during their dinner hour.


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Annie Hayes

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