Bringing cake in the workplace is as dangerous as passive smoking, UK’s top food watchdog says

Bringing cake into the office is as dangerous as passive smoking, according to the UK’s top food watchdog.

Professor Susan Jebb, chairwoman of the Food Standards Agency, advised employees to think twice before bringing unhealthy treats to work that might tempt coworkers.

She told The Times: “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.

“If nobody brought cakes into the office, I would not eat cakes in the day, but because people do bring cakes in, I eat them. Now, OK, I have made a choice, but people were making a choice to go into a smoky pub.

She added: “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.

Prof Jebb, an Oxford University professor of diet and population health, expressed frustration with the delays in implementing a television watershed for junk food advertising.

She said the advertisements are “undermining people’s free will” and insisted restrictions were “not about the nanny state”.

“Advertising means that the businesses with the most money have the most influence on people’s behaviour, which is not fair,” Prof Jebb added.

Obesity affects one-quarter of British adults, a figure that has more than doubled in the last 30 years.

Last month, Steve Barclay, the health secretary, delayed plans announced by Boris Johnson when he was prime minister to end “buy one, get one free” deals on unhealthy foods and ban junk food advertising on television before 9 p.m.

Mr. Barclay postponed implementation until 2025, after the next election.

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