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Is office ‘cake culture’ damaging employee health?


Professor Nigel Hunt, dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, said in a speech last week that fruit should be on offer instead to tackle the blight of ‘cake culture’. The top dental surgeon has warned that employees are fuelling the obesity crisis by taking cakes and biscuits to celebrate colleagues’ birthdays, engagements or for just surviving the working week.

In a speech to the Faculty of Dental Surgery’s annual dinner, Prof Hunt will say: “Managers want to reward staff for their efforts, colleagues want to celebrate special occasions, and workers want to bring back a gift from their holidays. But for many people the workplace is now the primary site of their sugar intake and is contributing to the current obesity epidemic and poor oral health.
“It is particularly dangerous that this is lying around the office all day for as we know, sugar has a particularly negative effect if it’s eaten outside of meal time.

Cake culture
Cake culture

Cake culture also poses difficulties for those who are trying their hardest to lose weight or become healthier – how many of us have begun such diets only to cave in to the temptation of the doughnuts, cookies or the triple chocolate biscuits? Ideally office workers should consider other alternatives altogether like fruit platters, nuts, or cheese. Responsible employers should take a lead and avoid such snacks in meetings,” he said.
Dentists recommend cutting down on sugary or starchy foods between meals as they give bacteria fuel to produce acids that decay teeth. Nearly 65,000 adults every year need hospital treatment for tooth decay.
Whilst at work, it is important for employees to choose foods which provide the body with the energy it requires and the nutrition to boost performance, build and repair muscle, tissues and cells. Here are some HP tips to encourage your employees to eat healthily and banish office ‘cake culture’:

  • Ensure calories consumed match those expended or employees will put on weight. The average calories required for a male are 2,500 kcal per day and women require around 2,000kcal per day.  This advice is particularly pertinent if some of your workforce are office-based and sedentary for long periods.
  • It is obvious but employees should aim to achieve 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Eating colourful meals means we are likely to be consuming more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • Do you have a canteen or snack machine with snacks like crisps?  If so, consider alternatives that will reduce the amount of salt consumed within the diet. The recommended limit of salt is 6gram which is approximately a teaspoon.
  • Reduce sugar and saturated fats. Encourage a reduction in the amount of sugar in teas and coffees, reduce sugary fizzy drinks, cakes, biscuits, butter and other foods high in saturated fats.
  • Employees should aim to drink 2 litres of fluid a day, this can include the water contained within foods. Discourage sugary fizzy drinks as these dehydrate the body.

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