Firms are losing millions of pounds in productivity because of the effect of staff having to work through their lunch break, a report has warned.
Research by health company Bupa showed that a third of employees felt pressured by managers to stay at their desk all day, while half said they were too busy to to stop work.
But the impact of not taking a break was said to be "significant", with half of the 1,000 workers polled believing that their productivity levels "plummeted" in the afternoon.
Bupa's 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, which can lead to insomnia and dehydration.
"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."
More than one in five of those questioned said working through lunch made them irritable and stressed.
Bupa said regularly working 10 and 11-hour days can increase the risk of developing serious health problems such as heart disease.
The company launched a Reclaim the Lunchbreak initiative to encourage workers to take regular breaks throughout the day.
Copyright © Press Association 2011