Food Standards Agency chairwoman states that cakes should not be brought into an office environment

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Could the days of the office bake off be a thing of the past, as one health agency expert compares office baked goods to passive smoking.

For many, birthdays and celebrations in an office environment can often lead to sweet treats, including a celebratory cake, being shared amongst office workers. However, one member of the Food Standards Agency feels this ‘tradition’ should be stopped in light of the ongoing obesity crisis the UK has been facing.

Speaking in her capacity as a member of The Times Health Commission, Food Standards Agency chairwoman Professor Susan Jebb feels that items such as cakes being brought into work require a high level of willpower from many who feel obliged to eat while in an office environment. “We all like to think we’re rational, intelligent, educated people who make informed choices the whole time and we undervalue the impact of the environment,” she said.

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“If nobody brought in cakes into the office, I would not eat cakes in the day, but because people do bring cakes in, I eat them,” before drawing parallels between cakes in the office and passive smoking. “I have made a choice, but people were making a choice to go into a smoky pub.

“With smoking, after a very long time, we have got to a place where we understand that individuals have to make some effort but that we can make their efforts more successful by having a supportive environment. But we still don’t feel like that about food.”

Professor Jebb feels that the topic of unhealthy weight should be taken more seriously by health practitioners, who could be dispensing advice on weight loss and healthy eating habits, but that these concepts are instead “mostly ignored.” Jebb believes strongly that obesity could be treated using “pretty cheap interventions [that] yield huge benefits”, such as NHS weight management programmes that have put type 2 diabetics into remission.”

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