More working Australians eat lunch on the go

With increasing time pressures, more & more working Australians are buying their lunch, eating it at their desk or skipping it altogether.1

A recent report by McCrindle Research found that only 4% of working Australians take lunch from home each day.

With 1 in 4 Australians working more than 50 hours a week, not including travel time, packing a lunch from home appears to have been squeezed out of from most Australian’s schedules.

Plus, it’s hurting the hip pocket. Researcher Mark McCrindle reports that ‘the average full time worker spends $1400 per year on lunches, while 10% spend over $3000.’ For the coffee lovers amongst us, I suggest this figure would be even higher when daily caffeine intake is factored in!!

Whilst we’ve all been guilty of it, the study also found that the most common place to eat lunch is the work desk (28%). With more & more research demonstrating the detrimental health effects of prolonged sitting, this certainly isn’t helping the situation. And let’s not start on the hygiene factors associated with eating at your desk!

Finally, almost 60% of survey respondents admitted to sometimes skipping lunch altogether, with 1 in 6 doing so frequently.

Recent international research suggests that workers who eat healthy over the working day, including a diet rich in fruits, vegetables & other low fat foods, are 25% more likely to have higher job performance.2

This is in line with recent Australian research that showed that healthy employees are three times more productive, & have 9 times less sick leave than unhealthy employees.3 Hence, employees with better health spend more time at work, & are more productive when they are.

So how can your workplace encourage employees to eat healthier over their working day? Here are our Top 6 Tips:

1.     Where available, ensure a well-equipped staff kitchen for employees to prepare & store their food (e.g. fridge, microwave, toaster, sandwich maker, cutlery)

2.     Where possible, provide a dining area or quiet space for employees to enjoy their meal away their desk

3.     Consider providing information or programs for employees on the benefits of healthy eating, for example, cooking demonstration, healthy lunchbox ideas.

4.     If your workplace has a vending machine, make sure it is stocked with healthy options. Click here for the Eat Well Tasmania Guide on how to work with your vending supplier.

5.     Provide fruit & vegetable bowls at the workplace on a cost-recovery basis, for example, $1 for a piece of fruit.

6.     Where food is supplied in the workplace (e.g. for events), ensure healthy options are available, for example, a fruit platter instead of pasties or cakes. Click here for the Queensland Government Healthy Choice Catering guide.

References

1.     McCrindle Research (2007) Snapshot: Australians Eat Lunch on the Go. Source: www.mccrindle.com.au

2.     Human Capital Magazine (2013) Fit for Work: healthy employees get more done. http://www.hcamag.com/article/fit-for-work-healthy-employees-get-more-done-174223.aspx

3.     Medibank Private (2005), The Health of Australia’s Workforce. Source: www.medibank.com.au