French more likely to eat alone in front of a screen

Increasing numbers of French people "regularly" eat alone, and almost half do so in front of a computer or phone screen

French people increasingly eat their evening meals alone, and more than half regularly eat dinner in front of a computer or phone screen, a new study has found.

The “Datalicious” barometre, completed by pollster Ifop from November 7-9 this year, studied a representative group of 1,000 French people aged 18 or over. It compared French eating habits today with those from data collected in 1999.

More than two in five people (43%) said they “regularly” eat alone now, compared to 29% who said the same in a similar poll conducted in 1999. This was more common among Millennial women (those born between 1980 and 1999), the study said.

Most notably,  the poll found that almost half of French people now regularly eat their meals in front of a screen, with this most likely to be a computer, tablet or phone; rather than a television.

Eric Sagnat, client director at Ifop, told newspaper Le Parisien: “That is the most surprising figure of the study. If we add this trend to the others, dinner is becoming more complicated in families, when, during dinner, one of the children is stuck to their computer to watch a series, and another is on their smartphone.”

The time taken and the style of dinner have also changed.

More than half (53%) said that they usually take less than half an hour for their evening meals, compared to 38% who said this in 1999; while only 46% of people usually eat dinner in a “starter, main, dessert” format today, compared to 59% who did this in 1999.

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