Decades ago, lunchtime at a large European company tended to have a steady rhythm.
Many companies had in-house canteens, where food was sometimes provided for free. Employees were encouraged to use the time to socialize, and take a full hour. The food on hand was dictated by the company, which could make choices based on what would best fuel their workforce.
Today’s work environments are quite different. Now, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Too often, workers grab the quickest, easiest and cheapest thing to eat.
This can lead to poor health outcomes. Artur Furtado, deputy head of unit for the European Commission’s Health Determinants and Inequality unit, says that roughly 50% of health effects are related to what we eat. “It is something that sometimes goes a bit off the radar, that there is such a direct relationship between what we eat and the quality of our lives, and how this translates to chronic diseases,” he says.
Unhealthy diets translate directly into a huge health and budgetary burden. In fact, more than 23% of all deaths can be attributed to that risk factor alone, according to the Commission. Losses of up to 7% of GDP can be linked to obesity. Changing people’s food consumption could yield significant savings for national budgets.