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Most Americans No Longer Take a Lunch Break

Most Americans No Longer Take a Lunch Break

Americans are too busy for lunch breaks, reports AOL. Rather than leaving the office for some much needed relaxation, most workers are opting to dine at their desks. According to a survey, 62% of American office workers usually eat their lunch in the same spot they work all day.

In a weakened economy, many employees feel a heightened need to prove their worth or look like a superstar worker who goes above and beyond to get the job done. Plus, when coworkers are working through their lunch breaks, no one wants to be the person who looks like a slacker.

For others, it is not just a matter of saving time, but saving money. Eating out routinely gets expensive, so bringing a lunch to eat at the desk is also the thrifty choice for the American worker.

On a national level, the United States does not mandate that businesses allow their employees a lunch break. However, 22 states do have explicit laws on the books stating that workers must take a half hour to hour lunch break. Nonetheless, even workers in these states often find themselves ignoring the law to chow down next to their computers.

In addition to lunch, 27% will eat breakfast at their desk (at least they are not skipping it altogether), and 50% will snack at their desk throughout the workday. Unfortunately, using the desk as a dining table could be a health hazard. With about two in three workers admitting they clean their desk less than once a month, the unsanitary surface leaves workers susceptible to foodborne illnesses.

AOL notes that lunches are not the only perk employees are foregoing: even vacation time is being passed over so that workers do not fall behind at their jobs. A study shows that while citizens in most countries of the industrialized world exhaust all of their vacation days each year, United States citizens waste an average of two days they are entitled to annually. Collectively, that amounts to a whopping $34 billion in lost time.

Even when Americans do take their vacation days, they are not actually leaving work behind. Another new study finds that more than half of Americans plan to work during their summer vacations. 30% of employees said they would read work emails during their vacations, 23% would take work phone calls, and 13% anticipate receiving new assignments from a boss or client. Evidently, even if workers are out of the office physically, many have not left mentally.

Related Stories:

The Importance of a Good Lunch

Can Recess Before Lunch and Later School Start Times Improve Student Performance?

Waste-Free Lunch Tips

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Photo Credit: Richard Masoner

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132 comments

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8:11PM PDT on Sep 13, 2012

i agree with F L. we are totally a workaholic nation...it's ridiculous! take a break everybody! a break does you good. don't you remember the old adage? "all work and no play makes jack a dull boy...."

8:24AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Good Luck Sue H., Wim Z. does this in every article read, tons of the same "thx" or few words to likely gain easy butterfly points. It can't be a technical issue since some will hit the add comment button a few times if they don't see their comments right away, this is often 11 or more posts of the same few word comment over and over, endlessly.

Companies should realize that productivity is slashed when people are not given breaks or time to eat a nourishing line. Obviously they care little about employees but one would think since they care more about the bottom line that they would see a more efficient and happy employee as an asset. One tires more easily without proper nutrition. Caring and knowledgeable companies see to it that employees have time to eat and even exercise.

10:00AM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

You need that break. Sometimes just getting away from the desk/computer for 5-10 minutes clears the mind and helps us focus better.
Like a lot of people, I didn't take vacation time because I worked in a small office & there was no one to do my work when I was gone. I knew I'd come back to a ton of work that would require twice the effort to finish it. When I was downsized I lost all that vacation time & money. Now I wish I'd taken it and let the chips fall where they may.

4:31AM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

ty

9:12PM PDT on Jul 16, 2012

This sounds sad. Everyone should take plenty of breaks. They can give one a different perspective, and ultimately make life more productive and enjoyable.

3:21PM PDT on Jul 16, 2012

Workaholic nation?

2:59PM PDT on Jul 16, 2012

Warning typo--that is working with co-workers who---

2:58PM PDT on Jul 16, 2012

Reminds me of yet another reason why I am glad that I finally quit my job at that Cleaning Service, other that working for a pair of Holy Ghost Filled Pain in the A$$E$, who were too greedy and selfish to pay a decent salary.
We had some long days in the heat of the summer and/or the cold of the winter, when we could not take a lunch break. I remember learning to drink water, no matter how hot the water had gotten in the car, just to keep my from passing out at the wheel, since I was one of the few drivers. Between working witco-workers who did not want to stop for lunch breaks, because at various houses they were sneaking their lunches when they were taking turns cleaning the kitchen and being to broke to stop for lunch--After all, it becomes hard to suggest to stop for lunch when you know that they will hit you up for lunch money.

10:28AM PDT on Jul 16, 2012

I used to eat at my desk occassionaly. Sometimes it was less stressful then going out or having to chat with coworkers in the lunchroom on days I really needed to take a break and enjoy some quiet time.

6:11AM PDT on Jul 16, 2012

I will admit, if I could eat at my desk I probably would sometimes (I work in a Art Gallery, no food or drinks allowed) but it is stated in our company's employee handbook that we are required to take time away from our desk. I sometimes wish I could snack occasionally (I have a coworker who can eat at her desk and has an entire drawer she uses for snacks) but the time I get away from my desk I realize is very important as it gives me a little time to recharge for the rest of the day. Also, I hope to take two weeks off in October. I haven't had a vacation since January '11. And that was the first real vacation in 4 years on the job.

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