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Berkshire, 22 November 2007: Many office workers struggle through the working day without breakfast, according to a survey (see footnote) carried out by Ipsos Mori for BaxterStorey, while some ignore both breakfast and lunch. The estimated cost to the nation (England, Scotland and Wales) per year of skipping breakfast alone is £8.1bn or 46.5m working days, in lost productivity. When other poor eating habits such as having no breakfast and lunch or having no breakfast and snacks, are included, lost productivity rockets to £16.85bn or almost 97m working days.

Startlingly, the research revealed that more than one third of office workers have bad breakfast habits: 17% of office workers never have breakfast during the working week, while a further 17% have breakfast between just one and three times in the week. And with 8% of those questioned regularly skipping lunch, national productivity takes a further knock, as lunch is seen as an important provider of energy for the afternoon.

“Worryingly, of those who rarely or never eat lunch, 27% also never eat breakfast during the working week,” Ipsos Mori noted.

BaxterStorey – the UK’s leading independent food service provider for business and industry - commissioned this, the first nationwide survey of its type in Great Britain, to discover more about office workers’ eating habits during their working day, from breakfast to when they leave work, and how those habits impact on UK productivity. The survey discovered:

• More than a third of office workers either never have breakfast or have it just one-three times a week. Half of these never have breakfast in their working day

• 32% of those who never eat breakfast, never snack.

• Only 63% of workers have breakfast five times a week

• 372,500 people or 2.5% of workers do not have breakfast and lunch.

• Most employees (92%) have lunch (usually sandwiches – 68%) but don’t drink enough during the day. Fluid intake levels are below what they should be for optimum health and performance (with only 11% having the recommended eight or more drinks during the working day).

• 78% are regular snackers, but more than half of these snack on crisps and biscuits (20% and 27% respectively), “which have extremely limited nutritional value to support productivity,” says Matt Barker - an independent performance and nutrition specialist who helped BaxterStorey analyse the survey findings and put a figure on lost productivity.

Many studies have found a relationship between eating breakfast and attention span, learning ability and general well-being, leading many nutrition experts to conclude it is the most important meal of the day – and other experts to believe it impacts significantly on productivity.

“Given that as a nation our understanding of food and nutrition grows daily and that breakfast is considered so important, we’re shocked and surprised at these findings,” says Alastair Storey, Chief Executive of BaxterStorey. “Whist it is not BaxterStorey’s role to advise people when and what to eat, it is clear that the UK’s workers need a far greater understanding of the importance diet plays in their productivity. What people eat – or don’t eat – and when - has a definite effect on productivity in the workplace and individuals need to ensure their food intake properly supports their working day.”

Independent analysis

Matt Barker has 20 years experience in guiding employees at all levels of organisations - many of them major blue chip companies - to enhance their performance by making positive choices about the food and drink they choose to fuel their mind and body. He says:

“It’s clear that too many people are getting much of their energy intake after work, then sleeping on it. This is certainly not efficient for the body or the brain, and is far from ideal for work performance. People who eat breakfast have better concentration, problem solving ability, mental performance, memory and mood.

“People who eat breakfast are also more physically energetic and have better coordination. Research tells us that scores on memory tests were about 15% lower in people who skipped breakfast. And those who skip it tend to eat sugary, fatty foods later in the day, reducing their productivity.

“This latest body of research bears this out. People tend to snack on crisps and biscuits, which can give a very temporary ‘lift’ but overall are far from ideal for productivity.”

The cost to the nation of lost productivity due to eating habits was achieved via published research, including that from The International Labour Organisation, which states that “adequate nourishment can raise national productivity levels by 20 per cent.” (ref: In addition, Matt Barker used feedback from his own clients to substantiate the productivity calculations. “Even people who had already made pretty positive choices are experiencing a 20% increase in productivity through better nutrition,” he states.

He stressed that the lost productivity and equivalent lost days calculated from the BaxterStorey research were “very conservative figures” and could be much higher. He attributed a 15% loss of productivity to those who had no breakfast, and a 20% loss to those who had no breakfast or snacks, and to those who did not have breakfast and lunch on their working days. “Some research ascribes a 70% loss of productivity to some of these eating habits,” he said. “We have reduced that percentage very considerably, to give us very conservative figures.

“These productivity figures are based on when people eat. We’ve not really taken into account the impact of what specific foods people choose,” Matt Barker adds. “If people choose to eat less nutritious food, then we're probably looking at a similar impact on top of what we're seeing here.”

About BaxterStorey
BaxterStorey is the UK’s leading independent food service provider for business and industry. The company manages and operates employee restaurants and executive dining rooms for over 220 businesses at more than 300 sites across the UK including Barclays Bank, GlaxoSmithkline, ITV, Oracle, Pearson Group, and Slaughter & May. Constantly focusing on providing an exciting fresh food service delivered through dedicated well trained chef brigades and service teams, is key to the company’s success.

The business was formed in November 2004 by the merger of BaxterSmith and Wilson Storey Halliday. BaxterStorey is owned and managed by its founders; it employs 4,500 people and has offices across the UK with its head office located in Reading, Berkshire. See for further information.


Footnote. Research conducted via face-to-face omnibus from 28th September to 2nd November 2007 by Ipsos MORI’s Global Omnibus Services division. A nationally representative sample of 1015 office workers aged 15+ in GB were interviewed, with data subsequently weighted to the known profile of this population.

Note to Editors:
The figures for lost productivity were compiled using figures and calculations supplied by the Office For National Statistics and the Centre for Economics and Business Research. These figures ascribe a value of £174.26 per day to the average worker in the UK. The total number of UK office workers is 14.9m (source YouGov)

For more information please contact:
Adrienne Cohen, Hothouse Communications
Tel + 44 (0) 1932 776060 / email
Paula Averley, Hothouse Communications
Tel +44 (0)20 8224 9933 / email

Please note: Copies of the survey and Matt Barker’s biography are available for journalists from Adrienne Cohen:
The press release, photography and guidance on how to manage nutrition to improve productivity can be found at

For further information please contact Paul Whitehead: or tel 01428 641413

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