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Last Updated: Monday, 19 July, 2004, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK
What do you do on your lunch break?
City workers on a break eating food
An annual report on lunchtime eating in the UK reveals that one in five workers never take a lunch break, a habit adding to the UK's long hours culture.

The average Briton's lunchtime break is at an all time low of 27 minutes. Only one in five people take a full hour.

Critics say it is bad for employees' health and causes productivity to suffer.

The good news though is that we are far more health conscious in comparison to 10 years ago.

How long do you take for lunch? Do you wish you could have a full hour away from your desk?

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Your comments:

I'm one of those lucky people who work from home, so I can choose how to spend my lunch break
David Hazel, Fareham

I'm one of those lucky people who work from home, so I can choose how to spend my lunch break and how to organise my working day. I also work for myself, so I don't have a boss who is going to worry about how I spend my time. I just have clients, who only care about whether they get their deliverables on time. And if I ever get enough work coming in to justify taking on staff, I plan to treat them in the same way: judge their performance by whether they deliver on time, not by how they organise their working patterns.
David Hazel, Fareham, UK

What whinging! When you're at the office, you're supposed to be working and giving your best for your employer, not "getting relaxed" and wasting time you could be working taking walkies. I don't take lunch and don't know any successful people who do unless it's with a client. Relaxation is for retirees.
John Reed, London

What an astonishing amount of complaining. I work long hrs and don't take a lunch break, and I get well compensated by my employers. If people don't want to do that, maybe they should work in a factory for the minimum wage and get the statutory amount of breaks during the day. This country doesn't owe people a living.
Sam, London, UK

I don't get a lunch break! I know I am supposed to get an hour but when we take it our manager keeps going on about how much work there is to do. The whole team feels guilty and nobody goes.
Chris, Nuneaton, England

I work in a shop so we get two 15 minute breaks and an hour lunch. There is no question of not taking a break! I go and get myself a free latte or cappuccino and sit in the staff room and read magazines, books or newspapers. Very relaxing and there are no customers to annoy me!
Katie, Swindon, UK

I am a bit dubious of these kinds of statistics
Adam, London

I am a bit dubious of these kinds of statistics. How was the information collected and how accurate is it? How many people were involved? The media mistreats statistics and takes them out of context to sensationalise it and make a story so I immediately mistrust these kinds of story. My lunchtime varies from none at all to two hours depending on what I have to do and I have never taken exact times of when and where so I am in no position to judge how much I take on average. I would be more interested in the distribution by company or profession as the 27 minutes data is all but useless.
Adam, London, UK

Some days I just take half an hour and add the remaining half hour to my flexitime towards a day off. Other days I take a full hour and read a book. Either way lunch usually includes a brisk walk through the park to the shops to buy lunch.
Lesley, UK

I'm in the city, if I can get lunch I eat it at the desk working. Otherwise, I try to get out around three thirty for a sandwich until leaving at seven.
Robert Billingham, London, UK

Never have a lunch break while on work premises. It's a trap that too many fall into. If you are there, you are available as far as any manager or boss is concerned. The phone will ring and you will be expected to answer it. The next thing is, "John could you just..." or "Helen, you don't mind doing..." My advice is to get up from your desk and go somewhere for a sandwich or sit in the car and read a paper. That's why I don't have any ulcers and the majority of my colleagues do! I go home on time too. Terrible aren't I?!
Dave, Sheffield, UK

What's a lunch break? As a registered childminder, I have a baby, two toddlers, a 5-year-old and a 6-year-old to feed. I prepare their meals, feed those who need help and supervise the rest whilst eating my own dinner. Lucky people getting a 27 minute break!
Julie, UK

I usually take a half hour lunch simply because if I took any longer I would have to stay later in the evening to get the work done. Scotland and the rest of Britain should reform the working system and become more like our European counterparts - less time working therefore less stress and more time being able to socialise and spend time with the family instead of being a weekend only friend/parent/partner.
Stewart Mackenzie, Edinburgh, Scotland

If the weather is nice I always try to take a walk around the beautiful parks in the centre of Cardiff. It's the perfect way to break up a stressful day.
Andrew, Cardiff, UK

If you don't, and your health suffers, then you've only got yourself to blame
Andrew, Lewes

This news is a sad indictment of both modern corporate life, and the way in which employees allow themselves to be driven into the ground. Take at least an hour for lunch, and preferably longer to keep your sanity. If you aren't allowed to, tell your boss to stick the job and go and find something else to do. If you don't, and your health suffers, then you've only got yourself to blame.
Andrew, Lewes, East Sussex

More whinging from the general working public! Your employer can't force you to work more than an hour, so get out there and take a break. You only have yourself to blame if you don't.
Tony, UK

We are not permitted to leave the building without carrying a pager. Sometimes due to staff shortages we don't get a break, despite them being an entitlement. If I get a break, I usually sleep.
Dave, UK

Too many people don't take a lunchtime because they feel they can't - but the working hours culture is not going to change by itself, people have to have the balls to take the break they are entitled to. I personally lunch several times a day!
Matt, Sutton

Remind me which is the lunch break... the walk to the meeting or the walk back?
Richard Evans, UK

I don't mind only taking a half hour lunch if it means I can finish work earlier. What I do object to is being expected to work during my lunch and take a quick sandwich at my desk. If the job can't be done in the allotted time then employ another person.
Darren, Manchester, UK

Needless to say, I deliver far more and work better!

In my last job I ate as I worked and worked many hours beyond those contracted. I left. I now have a job where I can leave my desk and wander in a lovely town, eat slowly without being interrupted and, best of all, join my colleagues at the local every Friday for at least an hour. Needless to say, I deliver far more and work better!

Mobile phone, laptop, Email. It takes a concerted effort to switch everything off to have a break. Trouble is the work you missed is all there when you switch back on. I don't bother with lunch.
Mike Monkman, Harrogate, England

Employees who take a full hour always eat too much, come back sleepy, and have a hard time getting back into the rhythm of work... and low productivity is really stealing from your employer. You should be 100% when you're on the clock, and if long breaks are making you slower, then stop. None of the really effective employees in my office take a full hour.
Brent Derbyshire, London, UK

I like to disappear into a quiet corner and make some music on my laptop - something different to exercise the other half of the brain!
Andy, Guildford

Lunch break? As an overworked, underpaid nurse in the NHS, half the time you get to the end of the shift before you even realise that you never had a lunch break!
Zoe, England

I take a whole hour for lunch. I sit at my desk, and surf around the net usually. I ignore then phone, lock the door, and ignore any knocks. Stuff anyone who wants my help during my lunch hour. I know my priorities!
S, Aylesbury, UK

I work in London. I usually go and get a sandwich and eat it at my desk whilst I continue working, I'm away for about 10 minutes. There's not much else to do around Waterloo, I've worked around here for over 20 years so I've seen it all and done it all.
Terry, Epsom, England

I would never take less than an hour for lunch, unless it were to make up for being late in the morning, for example. If there is too much work to do and not enough time in which to do it, then the company had better employ more people. Simple as that. Workers have rights, and should be aware of them - they should not feel they have to work unpaid overtime simply to keep their job!
Chris, London, UK

As long as it takes to offer my opinions to "Have Your Say"!
Ed, UK

I used to rarely take lunch breaks. Now I go to the gym. It is difficult to get myself out of the chair and to the gym, but I feel great afterwards. Highly recommended!
Emily, Brighton

The lunch hour is disappearing because town centre working is disappearing. At present I work in a city centre; I spend my lunch break shopping, either for food (at the local market) or in the department stores. In around a year's time we will leave our old, inconvenient office and move to a shed on a business park out of town. No nearby pub, cafe, canteen or shops. Where's the point of having a lunch break? I'll have to do my shopping at the nearest Tesco after work and it'll be another nail in the coffin of town and city centres. The other side of the coin is that people work in city centres but all the shops have moved out - and, of course, drinking is out and pub food costs a fortune. So we eat sandwiches at our desks and play Solitaire...
Hilary, Ledbury, UK

I stopped taking lunch breaks when I started to teach myself computing in my lunch hours... now 10 years later and a company director, a lunch break is a once-quarterly event at best.
Paul, Bedford


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