One in six of us have snacked on the toilet – here’s why you really shouldn’t

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·4-min read
closeup water flow to hand of women for nature concept on the garden background. (Getty Images)
Almost one in six of us admit to snacking on the loo, but the hygiene risks are significant. (Getty Images)

If scrolling through your phone on the loo wasn't unpleasant enough, turns out some of us are finding an even more grim way of passing the toilet time – having a snack.

New research has revealed that no place is off limits for those desperate to satisfy their hunger, with almost one in six admitting they’ve devoured a snack on the loo.

A recent poll of 2,000 adults, by Peperami has uncovered some of the weirdest places people like to snack and the bathroom is proving surprisingly popular.

While more than 20% admitted to nibbling in the bath, a bold one in six say they have been partial to polishing off a snack while sitting on the toilet.

While it might seem like the ultimate in multitasking, gobbling down a snack while otherwise, er, engaged could actually have some pretty serious consequences for our health.

Read more: The end of the office tea round? 'Gross' workplace habits UK employees want banned

For a start the bathroom is a hotbed of germs, which can easily be transferred to your snack of choice.

"Every time that we flush the toilet, we create a cloud of microdroplets (called bioaerosol)," explains Dr Georgios Efthimiou, lecturer in microbiology at Hull University.

Dr Efthimiou says these microdroplets from the toilet can contain bacteria and viruses, which can then travel through the air and could potentially settle on your cheese and ham sandwich.

Jokes aside, if ingested this may lead to a pretty serious bout of food poisoning.

Other bathroom snack spots include the bath. (Getty Images)
Other bathroom snack spots include the bath. (Getty Images)

"Whether you're in your own bathroom or a public restroom, snacking in the toilet is probably not the best idea," explains Jenna Brown, environmental health officer and founder of the Food Safety Mum.

"In short, toilet areas are full of germs that could make you sick; which could be anything from E.coli and salmonella to norovirus (though the full list is endless!)."

Brown says there are lots of touch points in a toilet – the door handle, the flush, the lock, the toilet roll holder, the tap... and the toilet itself! – which will be contaminated with other people's germs.

"So before you've even sat down, these germs will already be on your hands," she explains. "If you're snacking on the toilet, these germs can then go straight from your hands, to your food and into your mouth!"

Read more: One in 10 British people admit they still don't wash their hands after going to the toilet

Hands are, of course, the main way the germs will be transferred; which is why washing your hands after using the toilet is so important, but it's not the only way.

"When you flush, spray could travel up to six feet, so next time you might just want to leave your snack in the next room, and make sure your toothbrush isn't too close to the toilet either."

Watch: Study finds the inside of your car is dirtier than the average toilet

It isn’t just germs we need to be wary of while enjoying a sneaky snack on the loo either.

Taking in a snack in the bathroom may encourage you to spend more time sitting on the toilet, which could have an unexpected impact on your intimate parts.

According to experts staying on the toilet for an extended period, say while you’re scoffing a sarnie, can put unnecessary pressure on the rectum, which in some cases, can lead to haemorrhoids.

"Ten-minute toilet sessions could give you haemorrhoids by putting extra pressure on the veins that are at risk of bleeding," explains health and wellbeing expert Stephanie Taylor of StressNoMore.

Read more: Science says we’ve been washing our hands all wrong?

Washing your hands isn't enough to snack safely on the toilet. (Getty Images)
Washing your hands isn't enough to snack safely on the toilet. (Getty Images)

And lingering on the loo can have other health risks too.

"It can be tempting to take your time when you’re going to the toilet, with some people viewing it as a moment of peace and quiet in the day, but this can actually be very damaging to your health in more ways than one," Taylor adds.

"Firstly, your pelvic health can suffer. Hovering on the loo for too long can weaken the muscles and encourage urine to dribble intermittently, rather than just start and stop. This can eventually cause incontinence or even prolapse, so try to keep the process succinct to avoid long-lasting damage."

So next time hunger strikes, maybe just snack on the sofa rather than the toilet – your health will thank you for it.

Watch: Two thirds say they've turned into germaphobes since the pandemic

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