Feb 10, 2023

If you’ve seen the news or go on social media, then you’ve probably seen CakeGate.

Chair and Professor of Diet and Population health at the University of Oxford, Susan Jebb, has angered office workers and the newspapers alike with her new suggestion that bringing cake into the office is as bad as second-hand smoking.

I think the point that Jebb was trying to make was that people are easily influenced by their co-workers. If someone brought cake into the office because it’s their birthday or they were leaving, I wouldn’t hesitate to have a slice. But Jebb’s point is that people bring cake into the office too much, and people can’t say no.

If you read the real article, you’ll see that Jebb’s comment has been blown out of proportion and that her original statement is quite agreeable. I think the point she’s trying to make is that we all need to start being healthier and encouraging others to be as well. She states ‘if no one brought cake into the office, I would not eat cakes in the day, but because people do bring cakes in, I eat them… Now I have made a choice’, she then went on to discuss that people made a choice to go into smoky pubs, but after many advertisements and public campaigns against smoking, it became seen as a bad thing. This is where the criticism against the government’s handling of advertisement for junk food was brought in.

Once again, the current government have announced that their anti-obesity measure won’t come into force until 2025 after constant push backs. This included a ban on pre-watershed advertisement on junk food. Jebb’s point is, essentially, that we as a nation need to start to see unhealthy eating as something as bad as smoking to influence people to eat healthier.

This societal shift in the way people see unhealthy food needs to be similar to the way peoples perspective shifted on smoking, is what Jebb is suggesting. And this can only be done if we encourage others and get rid of our bad habits. It’s not bad to have cake on your birthday, or when someone’s leaving, but maybe don’t bring cake in to celebrate it being Friday!

By Amy Williamson Eat Smart Sheffield