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Workplace 'Cake Culture' Fuels Obesity Spike, Ruin Dental Health

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A dental leader in the United Kingdom has warned that the "cake culture" in the workplace is fueling obesity spikes and adding to poor dental health.

According to Professor Nigel Hunt, Royal College of Surgeons' Faculty of Dental Surgery dean, instead of bringing cookies, doughnuts and biscuits to the office, workers should switch to fruit platters.

Forget donuts and coffee at work. Hunt is calling for employers to stop offering sweet snacks during meetings.

During Hunt's speech at the Faculty of Dental Surgery's annual dinner, the dean said that while managers want to reward workers for their efforts or employees want to share a gift from a recent holiday or teams want to celebrate special occasions with cakes, the office has become a "primary site" for people's sugar consumption. And this practice is both contributing to poor dental health and obesity spikes.

"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," said Hunt.

He added that the "cake culture" is also making it hard for people, especially those who are giving it their best efforts, to lose excess weight or become healthier.

The dean stressed there is no need to ban sweet treats. Rather, there is a need for a "change in culture."

Hunt suggested that people buying sweets should consider going for small sizes or quantities as well as making these sugary treats available only when in tandem with lunch meals.

Workers should also consider switching to healthier alternatives such as fruit platters, cheese and nuts instead of the usual doughnuts, biscuits, pastries and cakes.

"Responsible employers should take a lead and avoid such snacks in meetings," added Hunt.

According to the UK's Health & Social Care Information Centre's Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet report [PDF], the obesity rates in men surged from 13.2 percent (1993) to 26 percent (2013) during a 20-year period. As for women, the obesity rates spiked from 16.4 percent (1993) to 23.8 percent (2013).

In terms of sugar, high consumption can really do much damage. In fact, in a 2014 study from the University College London, researchers found that sugar is the only cause of tooth decay in both adults and children.

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