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Office Cake Pushers Are Making Us Fat


Cake: cheaper than a raise, more delicious than a free gym membership. No wonder employer-sponsored (or management-encouraged) office celebrations remain so popular. There’s just one problem, of course: too much of a good thing, in this case, can be pretty bad for worker health.

office cake
Image Credit: XiXinXing/Getty Images

At least, that’s what The Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons in London says.

“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,” said Professor Nigel Hunt, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery, in a statement. “While these sweet treats might be well meaning, they are also contributing to the current obesity epidemic and poor oral health.”

CNBC notes that two out of three British adults are obese or overweight, according to a 2015 survey. The CDC reports similar stats for American adults.

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What Managers Should Do Instead

  • Offer healthy alternatives. The Faculty of Dental Surgery name-checked Google in their statement. The company’s cafeteria is arranged to make healthier foods more accessible than treats.
  • But, don’t forgo cake altogether. “Removing all bad foods and only offering healthy foods may sound like a good idea but it only alienates employees, causing backlash,” says David Just, Ph.D., an associate professor of behavioral economics at Cornell University, in an interview with Eating Well. “You’ll have much more success if you subtly nudge them in the right direction instead.”
  • Don’t make every activity revolve around food. It’s easy to plan office social activities around eating (or drinking). But not every team get-together needs to be a high-caloric adventure. Team-building activities like volunteering or doing something outside feel better than eating a big ol’ pile of cake. (At least, in the long run.)

How Workers Can Resist Cake Overload

  • Don’t let the office food pusher dictate your treat consumption. If you want some cake, have some cake, but don’t eat it just to get your colleague to stop micromanaging your food choices.
  • Don’t deny yourself all the time. If you’re in a cake mood, indulge. Sometimes moderation just means resisting the urge to go back for seconds.
  • Bring your own healthier treats. Your willpower is weakest when you’re starving. If you’re someone who forgets to eat when you’re busy at work, you’re vulnerable. Fill up with good stuff and you won’t wind up eating a lot of junk food you don’t even want.

Tell Us What You Think

Is your office a nutritional nightmare? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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