How Offices Make You Fat

16 June 2017 -


Nothing quite draws the attention of your whole office like cake and sweets, but medical experts have warned that the Great British Cake Culture is a significant danger to employee health

  Jermaine Haughton

Homemade cakes, fancy biscuits and those chocolates (with the gooey middle) are all great sharing treats for colleagues to celebrate birthdays, engagements or just the success of surviving a gruelling week.

However, the rare occasion has turned into a regular, even daily, occurrence in some offices, leading the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) to warn bosses that the growing trend is making people fat and worsening their oral health.

 While sugar comes in many different forms, gives us energy to work and is present in many of the foods we eat, many people consume far too much of it.  

With bread, pasta, vegetables and, even, tomato sauce covering much of our recommended daily sugar intake, the addition of sugary drinks, sweets and cakes can send our sugar levels soaring.

And the onslaught of sugar and fatty foods has seen the UK become the “fat man of Europe”, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, whose research found one in four British adults is obese - the highest level of obesity in Western Europe.

Professor Nigel Hunt, dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, says the sharing of sweets and cakes is often a very comforting, accessible and social way for managers to reward staff, or teammates to socialise. But with a high sugar intake linked to diabetes, heart disease and depression, and nearly 64,000 over-18s were admitted to hospital last year because of tooth decay the dangers are clear.

“While these sweet treats might be well meaning, they are also contributing to the current obesity epidemic and poor oral health,” Hunt said. “We need a culture change in offices and other workplaces that encourages healthy eating and helps workers avoid caving in to sweet temptations such as cakes, sweets and biscuits.”

Healthier Ways to Celebrate with Food in the Office

1. Consider low sugar alternatives: instead of crisps and milk chocolate, managers can offer other tasty, but healthier, options such as carrots and hummus and nuts.

2.Reduce portion sizes: think about reducing portion sizes – choose the small bag rather than the big one.

3. Vending machines and the canteen: managers can ensure that lower sugar options are always available in staff canteens and in vending machines, making sugary products less visible.

4. Develop a sugar schedule to help limit your team’s sugar intake: one way to limit sugar consumption at such times is to organise a sugar schedule. For example, if there are birthdays on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, arrange to have cake at Friday lunchtime to celebrate all three, rather than on each individual day.

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