Two in three millennials skip lunch to ‘get ahead’: survey

By Kristine Sherred

- Last updated on GMT

Americans admit to eating lunch at their desks two to three times a week. Pic: Getty Images/p_ponomareva
Americans admit to eating lunch at their desks two to three times a week. Pic: Getty Images/p_ponomareva

Related tags snacking Snacks walnuts Nuts Trade Associations Fiber Protein Salad Consumer attitudes

A survey by the California Walnut Board and the California Walnut Commission has revealed that most American office workers eat lunch at their desk at least half of the time.

The associations surveyed 1,000 US adults online earlier this year to understand Americans’ perceptions of lunch in an ever-busying workplace culture.

Routine has given way to last-minute lunch decisions, the survey found, with 53% of consumers deciding last minute what to eat, usually after their energy levels have already depleted. These kinds of decisions often lead to ‘unhealthy meal choices,’ according to the Board and Commission. Only a quarter of consumers reported choosing foods ‘that give them energy to power through the day.’

Two-thirds of respondents claimed to check social media during their lunch break, while 59% catch up on the news. This ‘break’ happens in front of a computer screen two to three days a week, the survey found.

Many Americans fail to take a lunch break at all: Two in three millennials admitted to skipping lunch to ‘get ahead.’ Of the respondents who were recently promoted, however, 60% said they take advantage of paid lunch breaks.

America’s lunch box

Jeanette Jenkins, the Board’s health and fitness expert, said that a packed lunched typically entails healthier choices.

Of the respondents who bring lunch from home, more than half reach for fruits and vegetables, while 50% pack a salad. A quarter include nuts, and half of that group opts for walnuts.

Jenkins dissuades consumers from skipping lunch ‘at all costs,' encouraging them to eat a meal that includes convenient ingredients high in protein and fiber. A 1oz serving of walnuts, for example, provides 4g of protein, 2g of fiber and 2.5g of omega-3 fatty acids.

"You can add walnuts to grain bowls or salads, create a plant-based taco meat or sprinkle them on top of Greek yogurt and fruit for a filling midday snack,” ​said Jenkins.

The five 'lunchers'

The survey was structured to pinpoint five archetypes of ‘lunchers.’

  • There is the last-minute​ luncher, who often ‘loses track of time’ and opts for whatever seems easiest.
  • The ‘lover-o-lunch​’ makes time for lunch daily – whether from a local quick-service restaurant or from home – and takes full advantage of time away from the office.
  • Three of the five types involve snacking, with the ultimate being the ‘snackaholic​’: This type of worker keeps a steady supply of snacks close by.
  • Busy bees​’ try to squeeze in lunch without leaving their desks, which results in a bite here and a bite there.
  • And, on the opposite side of the spectrum is the ‘mindful muncher​,’ who steps out of the office to refresh ‘their minds first and stomachs second.’

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