Past generations had a far better understanding of how their food was produced than we do. And eating together was a major social event to be savoured. Being the first industrialised country, in the UK we have had more time to lose the folk memory of rural life and producing food, and with it the social aspect of eating together as families. We can see this in the average amount of time we spend eating during the day. Long family mealtimes are a thing of the past as they have been widely replaced by individual ‘grazing’ and syncopated family eating times. In the UK and US in particular, food is fuel, so you fill the tank as quickly as you can, and the social event of eating together as a family is largely lost.

A recent study compared national average time spent eating per day across a range of counties. Below, a few of these countries are compared with their national average BMI index, and their world obesity ranking, and the connections are quite stark.

Notable amongst the national data were:

CountryTime taken to eat/dayAverage BMI
(Body Mass Index)
OECD obesity ranking
(1 = most obese)
France  Germany UK USA2 hours 11 mins 1 hour 36m 1 hour 18m 1 hour 1m25.3 26.3 27.3 28.8120th 77th 40th 17th