Employers using absence management software could be concerned by new research suggesting that older workers are the most at risk of health problems caused by job-related stress and being overweight.

A survey by insurance provider Canada Life found that 41 per cent of employees between the ages of 51 and 55 think they have been ill because of stress caused by work.

Almost one in six (15 per cent) said their weight has caused them to experience health problems.

Only 13 per cent of people aged 51 to 65 are offered subsidised gym membership at work, according to the research, compared to 21 per cent of those in the 21 to 50 age group.

Paul Avis, marketing director at Canada Life, said: "The UK population is ageing at an unprecedented rate, with the average employee age set to increase as a result.

"The fact that so many workers over the age of 50 suffer from ill health as a result of work-related stress and an unhealthy diet or weight is therefore bound to have an increasingly negative effect on absence rates and productivity."

Another finding of the study suggested that 40 per cent of 21 to 30-year-olds believe they have put on weight because of bad habits picked up in their job, four per cent more than the average across all ages.

More than a quarter (27 per cent) of employees in this age group said they skip lunch or eat convenience foods when they are stressed or busy, while 39 per cent admitted to eating unhealthy snacks, such as cakes and biscuits brought in by colleagues.

Thirty-seven per cent of 31 to 40-year-olds said they eat lunch at their desk while working, more than any other age group.

According to recent research by employee benefits provider Jardine Lloyd Thompson, more than 40 per cent of employers could be doing more to address health issues in their workforce.

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