Canadians shunning meals in favor of convenience

By Nick Hughes

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Snack food Food

Almost one in five Canadians skip their lunch break in favor of surfing the internet or working at their desk, says a new survey that supports the development of convenience foods.

Of those that do stop for lunch, 32 percent said they look first and foremost for healthy ingredients, 25 percent for quality and 17 percent for flavor, according to an Angus Reid Survey for ConAgra Foods Canada.

The survey found over half of Canadians (53 percent) admitted to spending the majority of their lunch break reading, surfing the web or working. More than a third of those surveyed only took a lunch break of 16-30 minutes suggesting they are also looking for convenience options, the report said.

The Angus Reid Survey findings tally with a new report published by the National Bureau of Economic Research on the concept of grazing – snacking or drinking while working, watching TV or doing some other activity.

More than half of all adults snack every day, with their snacking time almost equaling the time they spend eating actual meals. The average American adult spends around two and a half hours eating or grazing every day, according to Daniel Hammermesh, economist at the University of Texas at Austin.

“When their time becomes more valuable, people substitute grazing for eating, essentially switching to multi-tasking,”​ Hammermesh said. “Overall, better health is associated with more time spent eating, but especially with spreading that time over more meals per day.”

The report also found a correlation between the amount of money people earn and their propensity to graze. A worker who earns $75,000 per year spends five minutes more per day eating, and almost the same extra time grazing than one who earns $25,000.

Better educated people also graze and eat more frequently. Workers with a post-graduate education spend about 25 more minutes a day eating meals than high school dropouts.

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