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UK workers not out to lunch enough, says Bupa

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UK companies are losing close to £50 million a day in lost productivity, as workers fail to take a lunch break, says Bupa.

According to a March 2011 online survey of 1000 UK workers by the health insurer, most UK employees are chained to their desks - as just 30% take a lunch hour.

Over a third (34%) of employees experience pressure from managers to work through their lunch hour, while half feel the weight of their workload prevents them from taking a break.

The impact on workers not taking a break is significant: almost half (48%) feel their productivity levels plummet in the afternoon around 3 o'clock. As a result, they lose almost 40 minutes of their day due to this dip - and the economy loses £50 million daily, says the survey.

Bupa clinical director of occupational health, Jenny Leeser, said: "In challenging economic times, the UK workforce is in overdrive and the lunch break is falling by the wayside. Instead of taking a break to refuel, workers are using props including chocolates and sweets and caffeinated drinks to get them through the day.

"In fact, 21% consume five caffeinated drinks a day. Having large amounts of caffeine on a daily basis can lead to insomnia and dehydration.

"Taking an entire hour for lunch can often be difficult, and is not necessarily the best way to keep productivity levels up. Best practice is for employees to take breaks - often in the form of a change of activity - at regular intervals throughout the day, to help stay alert and focused."