Home Countries Belgium Methodology Step 4 : Evaluation Second questionnaires for employees and restaurants (2010) In Belgium

In Belgium

Employee questionnaire results

Over a quarter of all questionnaire respondents out of the six countries were Belgian (1615 respondents, almost four times the response rate from the previous round in 2009), the biggest response rate from any of the six countries (Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden).

Less than half of all employees surveyed (the smallest number out of all countries) reported to weighing a normal weight. 37% of the respondents (the most out of the six countries) considered themselves overweight.

The results from the second questionnaire contrasted against the results from the first questionnaire highlighting the importance of the country specific cultural setting.
The meaning of balanced food, in line with all other countries, was to the majority of employees ‘various foods in a moderate amount in a nice environment’. Fewer respondents chose the definition of ‘eating pleasant food while protecting your health at the same time’. This is a slight change to the 2009 results where both definitions were almost equally chosen.

38% of employees (compared with 59.5% in 2009) were aware of a programme promoting healthy or balanced food. 45% of those unfamiliar with one would like to have more information on the subject.

Figure 5: employee attitudes to making changes to their eating habits

In the past 12 months, 57% of employees have made or were considering making changes to the way they eat. Out of the 43% who replied to not making changes, 14% claimed to already eat according to healthy eating recommendations.
Over all, less people claimed to have a lunch break. 72% of employees reported to having a lunch break every single day compared with 77.6% in 2009. Similar to that, 6% of respondents claimed to never have a break compared with only 1.8% in 2009. Most employees who have a lunch break still either eat at home or bring food from home.

One of the reasons mentioned by the respondents for eating at home or eating homemade food was the cost of eating out. Lack of time to go out was another reason given by 42% of respondents, up from 31% in the previous questionnaire. Restaurant food being high in calories was the third most important reason.

Similar to Italian respondents, Belgian employees who eat in a restaurant at lunchtime, choose where to eat based on speed of service followed by the price of the food. An offer of varied meals and the nutritional quality of the food were the next most important factors. The choice of food at the restaurant was still determined by people’s wish at the time, even though slightly fewer respondents chose it than in 2009, while ‘what is good for me’ was chosen by 29.2% of respondents compared with 25.5% in 2009. The price was however significantly more important to respondents in 2010.

Restaurant questionnaire results

51 restaurants responded to the second questionnaire, the same number as in 2009. Nearly three quarters of the respondents were male (the most out of the six countries). 60.8% of restaurants that participated in the questionnaire offer a special lunch menu.

Restaurant owners were interested in increasing their knowledge of healthy cooking. However, they were not interested in educating their customers and neither were the employees expecting nutritional information in the restaurant.
Restaurant owners claimed to have noticed a growing interest in healthy food from their customers yet this phenomenon is not significant enough to convince them to make changes to the food they offer.

Budget remains the main obstacle to restaurants wishing to implement changes to their cooking methods. 15% of restaurant owners already believe they offer healthy food. 15% have made changes in the past year and 35% more were considering implementing changes to the food they offer. These results may indicate that initiatives targeted at restaurants are successfully creating a shift in restaurant owners’ attitude toward healthy food.

The results from the second questionnaire indicate that Belgian employees are increasingly experiencing time pressure at lunch and that affects their eating out habits. Fewer employees have a lunch break and the majority still bring food from home into the office. They are however considering the healthfulness of their diet and making changes to their eating habits. This is also a factor they take into account when choosing a restaurant to eat in.

Positively, restaurant owners have noticed that more and more people are interested in healthy food and wished to increase their knowledge about healthy cooking.

Hopefully, this increase in demand for healthy food from employees will continue to grow and once being felt, will encourage all Belgian restaurants to implement the recommendations and improve the food they offer.