Almost 40 per cent of Canadians are eating lunch at their desks — a number that reflects increasing workplace pressures as well as shifting attitudes toward meals, says the lead author of a new study gauging the country’s eating habits.
The survey, which was conducted by Nova Scotia’s Dalhousie University, found that 39 per cent of respondents ate at their desks, compared with 37 per cent who ate lunch at home. The remaining 24 per cent had lunch in a cafeteria or in a kitchen-type room.
“It really speaks to how pressured workers are,” said lead author Sylvain Charlebois, a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie.
“To take the time to go eat any meal at work is slowly becoming a luxury.”
Charlebois and his team found that 72 per cent of respondents packed their own work lunches, while 24 per cent either bought their lunches to eat outside or ate at restaurants.
People in Atlantic Canada eat lunch at their desks most often, at almost 50 per cent, the study suggested.
They’re also much more likely to eat alone, with 68 per cent reporting doing so.
Charlebois said the discrepancy in Atlantic Canada remains “a mystery,” although he cited an older population and longer distances to travel as possible factors.
Only 36 per cent of Quebecers eat lunch alone, while the figure is 61 per cent in Ontario.
Less home cooking
When it comes to dinner, Canadians are increasingly turning to ready-made meals or eating out at restaurants, the study found.
Some 41 per cent of survey respondents reported doing so once or twice a week, while three per cent said they did so every day.
Only 18 per cent of participants said they never ate at restaurants or bought ready-made meals for dinner.
Charlebois pointed out that grocers are offering more ready-to-eat options and increasingly adding tables and chairs for people to consume food on site as a way to boost the trend.
“I think the study actually speaks to the blurring lines between traditional…