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Why eating lunch at your desk poses a health risk

Pressure at work is stopping over half of us from regularly leaving the office at lunchtime according to new research.

A survey commissioned by the National Charity Partnership has found that 52% of workers said they never leave their office for lunch; one in four (24%) say they regularly work through their break; and 46% use the time to browse online.

Office workers polled reported that heavy workloads (32%), workplace culture (14%) and stress (13%) are to blame for not getting away from their desks for a walk at lunchtime.

Health experts continue to warn about the risks of low rates of physical activity and the dangers of sitting too long have even been equated with smoking. The survey also found that more than nine in ten employees said that being outside makes them feel healthier or more positive.

The National Charity Partnership is calling on office workers to reclaim their lunch break and use its new online tool to help them get active and improve their health.

Work-related stress accounted for almost 10 million lost working days in 2014-15 according to Jenna Hall, Programme Director for the National Charity Partnership

"Managers and staff have a joint responsibility to ensure regular breaks are taken during the working day. Employers should promote a workplace culture where staff feel able to take breaks."

Jacqui Kemp, Director at Wellbeing Consultancy Namasté Culture, told the CIPD that companies should create a culture where people are encouraged to take their lunch breaks. 

"Some organisations have a culture of busy-ness; a belief that if I am sat at my desk I am being productive," she said. 
"Yet research shows that if we take short breaks regularly we can be far more productive, while reducing stress and improving our physical health."

Babs Evans, Head of Prevention for the National Charity Partnership, said: 

"Work-related stress puts a strain on your mental wellbeing and can have a knock-on effect on your physical health. People under too much pressure at work are more likely to eat unhealthily and stop being active: behaviours which are linked to a number of health conditions, including Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease. Both conditions are serious [but] they are largely preventable and being active is an effective way to help reduce your risk."

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