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Food & Drink

Eating in America Is So Very Lonely

There’s no time, possibly except for when you go to bed, that feels more lonely than when you’re scarfing down a meal silently and alone. More than 50 percent of meals and snacks consumed in the two years ended in February were eaten this way, according to an ongoing survey of thousands of households by researcher NPD Group.

Breakfast is one thing—we’re all too busy to organize a sit-down meal in the morning—and even lunch is excusable on busy workdays. But how do you explain that among the surveyed group, about one-third of dinners were eaten alone? NPD blames demographics: Twenty-seven percent of all households now consist of just one person, the highest level in U.S. history. No wonder Starbucks (SBUX) deliberately uses small round tables so that solo customers don’t feel lonely.

This news about the state of American eating culture is a bummer. Put down the frozen meatloaf and do yourself a favor: Find a friend the next time you sit down for a meal.

Wong is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow her on Twitter @venessawwong.

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