Third of office workers skip breakfast: survey

LONDON Fri Nov 23, 2007 11:35pm IST

Scottish National Party (SNP) leaflet lies on a table during a business breakfast briefing in Edinburgh April 20, 2007. A third of office workers would rather grab a few minutes extra sleep than breakfast, according to a survey that estimated poor eating habits were costing companies dearly in terms of lost productivity. REUTERS/David Moir

Scottish National Party (SNP) leaflet lies on a table during a business breakfast briefing in Edinburgh April 20, 2007. A third of office workers would rather grab a few minutes extra sleep than breakfast, according to a survey that estimated poor eating habits were costing companies dearly in terms of lost productivity.

Credit: Reuters/David Moir

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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A third of office workers would rather grab a few minutes extra sleep than breakfast, according to a survey that estimated poor eating habits were costing companies dearly in terms of lost productivity.

A survey by Ipsos Mori found 17 percent of British office workers either never have breakfast and 17 percent have it just one to three times a week.

It found eight percent of 1,051 office staff questioned also regularly skip lunch, with these poor eating habits estimated to be costing companies 17 billion pounds ($34 billion) a year or 97 million lost working days.

"Worryingly, of those who rarely or never eat lunch, 27 percent also never eat breakfast during the working week," said Ipsos Mori researchers in a statement.

The survey, commissioned by food service company BaxterStorey, estimated skipping breakfast cost companies 8.1 billion pounds or 46.5 million lost working days, with many studies finding a link between eating breakfast and attention span, learning ability and general well-being.

When other poor eating habits such as having no breakfast and lunch or having no breakfast and snacks, are included, lost productivity rocketed to nearly 17 billion pounds.

The survey found most employees -- 92 percent -- have lunch, with 68 percent opting for sandwiches, but most people don't drink enough during the day. Only 11 percent had the recommended eight or more drinks during the working day.

"People who eat breakfast have better concentration, problem solving ability, mental performance, memory and mood. People who eat breakfast are also more physically energetic and have better coordination," said Matt Barker, an independent performance and nutrition specialist.

"Research tells us that scores on memory tests were about 15 percent lower in people who skipped breakfast. And those who skip it tend to eat sugary, fatty foods later in the day, reducing their productivity."

The figures for lost productivity were compiled using figures and calculations supplied by the Office For National Statistics and the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith)

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