More than one in three people go a whole week without eating a meal with someone else, a survey created with an Oxford University researcher has found.

Amazingly the research also found that the average adult eats 10 meals a week out of 21 on the own.

The findings into the UK's lonely eating habits were commissioned by the Big Lunch, part of the Eden Project, and included the work of Oxford University psychology professor Robin Dunbar.

The Big Lunch, which has funding from the Big Lottery Fund, aims to shine a light on our mealtimes and how often we eat with others.

Professor Dunbar explained: "The act of eating together triggers the endorphin system in the brain and endorphins play an important role in social bonding in humans. 

"Taking the time to sit down together over a meal helps create social networks that in turn have profound effects on our physical and mental health, our happiness and wellbeing, and even our sense of purpose in life."

According to the Big Lunch the solitary eating trend can be put down to factors such as busy lives and hectic work schedules.

Our findings include that 69% of those questioned had never shared a meal with their neighbours, and a fifth of people said it had been more than six months since they shared a meal with their parents.

Professor Dunbar said: "In these increasingly fraught times, when community cohesion is ever more important, making time for and joining in communal meals is perhaps the single most important thing we can do.

"This is both for our own health and wellbeing and for that of the wider community.”