'Lunch Hour' a Misnomer, Survey Says A workplace survey shows Americans are not taking a full hour for lunch, and when they do, they're not always eating. A sampling of Washingtonians illustrates the point.

'Lunch Hour' a Misnomer, Survey Says

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Even if you can get a reservation, most American office workers don't make time for a sit-down lunch. A new study finds these days lunch hour is more likely lunch half-hour, and people aren't necessarily eating. To find out what they are doing, MORNING EDITION headed into downtown Washington, DC, at high noon.

Beth Lieberman puts in three miles on a treadmill at the YWCA, a fact she would like to keep from her boss.

Ms. BETH LIEBERMAN: It's one of those things, don't ask, don't tell. You know? I don't know. I feel guilty. But it works for me, and I think in the long run it works for him.

MONTAGNE: And, of course, we won't be telling. Actually, the Steelcase Workplace Index Survey, which compared its results to one taken nine years ago, found that people now are a little less guilty about taking a full hour for lunch. And when they do go to a restaurant, they probably feel like Jennifer Earle(ph), who is in town for a medical conference.

Ms. JENNIFER EARLE: This is a luxury for us today to be here in Washington doing this.

MONTAGNE: Jennifer Earle and a colleague were waiting for a table at an upscale seafood restaurant. Earle usually grabs a sandwich and a Coke from the vending machine at her office but what really gets her through the day isn't lunch.

Ms. EARLE: It's chocolate. He keeps a candy jar, a huge candy jar, on his desk, full of chocolate candy. So the minute that energy level starts going down, we all run in and have candy.

MONTAGNE: Kevin Friend(ph) is in line at a sandwich shop. He usually eats at his desk, which can get messy. But the mayonnaise dripping from his sandwich has an upside.

Mr. KEVIN FRIEND: Actually, grease is good. It looks good on my deliverables. It makes my partner know that `Hey, I've been working.'

MONTAGNE: Perhaps to make up for all those working lunches, the Steelcase study also found Americans are working less on weekends.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

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