3/4 of Brits say it IS acceptable to bring treats into office after health tsar warning


Cakes are brought into offices to celebrate practically anything, from birthdays to leaving-dos and even the relief of reaching 3pm on a Friday afternoon.

But sharing a celebratory sweet treat among colleagues was today controversially compared to being as harmful as passive smoking by the Government’s food tsar.

Food Standards Agency chair Professor Susan Jebb’s comments triggered massive backlash on social media, as well as a poll that revealed three-quarters of Brits think it’s acceptable to take baked offerings to work.

Even Rishi Sunak hit back at the warning, with the PM’s advisers revealing that he was ‘very partial’ to a slice of carrot cake.

Leading experts today hit back at the parallels drawn to the toxic effects of second-hand smoking, arguing that cake ‘is simply a type of food’ which can be enjoyed in moderation. But they insisted it should not be a daily treat. 

Servings of cakes sold on the High Street — like M&S’ loved Colin the Caterpillar — can contain more than 450 calories and 60g of sugar, MailOnline analysis shows. 

MailOnline looked at 160 cakes available on the high street shows that. The most calorific option was Sainsbury’s Cookie Dough Chocolate Chip Madeira Cake (top left). Tesco’s Finest Trillionaire Cake was also among the worst offenders (top middle). A Cookies and Cream Celebration Cake at Asda (top right) has 460 calories per 100g and 48g of sugar. The most calorific option at Waitrose is the Coffee and Caramel Cake (bottom left). At M&S, the least healthy cake is its famous Colin The Caterpillar Cake (bottom middle). Available at Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, the Maltesers Party Cake (bottom right) is also one of the least healthy options

Professor Susan Jebb, chairwoman of the Food Standards Agency (pictured), says bringing cake into work is as harmful to colleagues as secondhand smoking

Rishi Sunak's (pictured) spokesperson said the PM believes that personal choice should be baked into our approach

Professor Susan Jebb, chairwoman of the Food Standards Agency, says bringing cake into work is as harmful to colleagues as secondhand smoking. But Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson said the PM believes that personal choice should be baked into our approach

A poll by YouGov, which asked more than 5,000 Brits what they think about brining unhealthy foods to the office, revealed that 77 per cent think it is either 'completely' or 'somewhat' acceptable. One in 10 (nine per cent) said it is 'somewhat unacceptable', while four per cent said it is 'completely unacceptable'. A tenth (11 per cent) said they didn't know

A poll by YouGov, which asked more than 5,000 Brits what they think about brining unhealthy foods to the office, revealed that 77 per cent think it is either ‘completely’ or ‘somewhat’ acceptable. One in 10 (nine per cent) said it is ‘somewhat unacceptable’, while four per cent said it is ‘completely unacceptable’. A tenth (11 per cent) said they didn’t know

Professor Jebb told The Times: ‘If nobody brought in cakes into the office, I would not eat cakes in the day.

‘But because people do bring cakes in, I eat them. Now, okay, I have made a choice. But people were making a choice to go into a smoky pub.’

Professor Jebb noted the two situations were not identical — but warned the effects of smoking caused harm to others ‘and exactly the same is true of food’.

But 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. 

‘But we still don’t feel like that about food.’

Mr Sunak pushed back against the comments.

Asked what he made of the suggestion that office cake and passive smoking were comparable, the PM’s official spokesperson said: ‘No. The Prime Minister believes that personal choice should be baked into our approach.

‘We want to encourage healthy lifestyles and are taking action to tackle obesity, which has cost the NHS £6billion annually.

‘However, the way to deal with this issue is not to stop people from occasionally bringing in treats for their co-workers.’

Mr Sunak’s press secretary added that he is ‘very partial to a piece of cake’ and most enjoys carrot and red velvet cake.

Aides underlined the message by bringing in cupcakes for journalists at a briefing after the weekly PMQs session. 

Professor Jebb’s comments also sparked social media fury with defiant Brits, who said comparing cake at work with exposure to cigarette smoke was ‘joyless’.

‘Unless you take cake to work and smash into the faces of your colleagues, I fail to see how it could be like passive smoking,’ another Twitter user said. 

Others accused her of being ‘bitter that no one brought cake into the office’ for her birthday.

Professor Jebb's comments also sparked social media backlash with Brits, who said comparing cake at work with exposure to cigarette smoke as 'joyless'. 'Unless you take cake to work and smash into the faces of your colleagues, I fail to see how it could be like passive smoking,' another Twitter user said. Others accused her of being 'bitter that no one brought cake into the office' for her birthday

Professor Jebb’s comments also sparked social media backlash with Brits, who said comparing cake at work with exposure to cigarette smoke as ‘joyless’. ‘Unless you take cake to work and smash into the faces of your colleagues, I fail to see how it could be like passive smoking,’ another Twitter user said. Others accused her of being ‘bitter that no one brought cake into the office’ for her birthday

WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS

• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count

• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain

• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on

• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options

• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts

• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day

• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day

Source: NHS Eatwell Guide 

The majority of the public also disapprove of Professor Jebb’s stance. 

A poll by YouGov, which asked more than 5,000 Brits what they think about bringing unhealthy foods to the office, revealed that 77 per cent think it is either ‘completely’ or ‘somewhat’ acceptable. 

One in 10 (nine per cent) said it is ‘somewhat unacceptable’, while four per cent said it is ‘completely unacceptable’. 

A tenth (11 per cent) said they didn’t know. 

However, MailOnline findings shows just how bad cakes can be for the waistline, when consumed in excess.

Analysis of 160 cakes available on the high street shows that, per 100g, the treats can contain nearly 500 calories and 15 teaspoons of sugar.

The most calorific option was Sainsbury’s Cookie Dough Chocolate Chip Madeira Cake, which is a sponge cake decorated with cookie crumb frosting.

It has 463 calories per 100g and 43.4g of sugar — around as much as two Mars bars (228 calories) or nine McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives (4.8g sugar), respectively.

Tesco’s Finest Trillionaire Cake — caramel and brownie cake covered in chocolate ganache — was also among the worst offenders.

It has 462 calories, as much as two-and-a-half Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnuts and 44.9g of sugar, which is equivalent to two chocolate muffins. 

A Cookies and Cream Celebration Cake at Asda, made with chocolate and madeira sponges and cookie-flavoured icing, has 460 calories per 100g and 48g of sugar.

For context, an average man is supposed to consume around 2,500 calories per day to maintain weight, while a woman needs around 2,000. 

And adults should eat no more than 30g of free sugars daily, which are those added to food and drink, as opposed to those found naturally in milk, fruit and vegetables.

The most calorific option at Waitrose is the Coffee and Caramel Cake — coffee sponge with salted caramel buttercream — which has 459 calories and 35.5g of sugar per 100g. 

This is around as many calories as a large McDonald’s Chocolate Milkshake (468) and more sugar than a can of Coca Cola (35g).

At M&S, the least healthy cake is its famous Colin The Caterpillar Cake — a chocolate sponge roll filled with chocolate buttercream — which has 452 calories and 46.3g of sugar per 100g slice.

Available at Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, the Maltesers Party Cake is also one of the least healthy options — with 452 calories and 33g of sugar per 100.

This more than two Kit Kat Chunky bars (203 calories) and nearly as much sugar as a Twix Xtra bar.

However, many of the supermarkets recommend that a slice is between 50 and 75g counts as one serving, rather than 100g.

And experts insist that the occasional sweet treat is fine as part of a balanced diet. 

Professor Gunter Kuhnle, an expert in nutrition at the University of Reading, told MailOnline that ‘even the NHS Eatwell guide includes treats such as cake’.

‘A balanced diet can include many things, and cakes can definitely be part of that,’ he said.

Professor Kuhnle said the FSA chair’s comparison of smoking and cakes at work is ‘not very helpful’.

He noted: ‘Second hand smoke is clearly toxic whereas cake is simply a type of food.

‘It also ignores the fact that food is not just there to provide energy but has an important social role.  

‘Cakes in the office maintain relationships and can have an important role there.’  

Dr Duane Mellor, a registered dietitian and researcher at Aston Medical School in Birmingham, told MailOnline that cakes are often brought to work to bring people together — ‘something that we have missed whilst working from home’.

He said: ‘Perhaps in workplaces we need to discuss and agree limits so cakes are not daily, and they are not placed [in a way that makes] it harder for those trying to avoid temptation and eat healthily.

‘Cakes, typically by their nature, are higher in calories and sugar, so perhaps trying to bring in tasty by lower calorie versions — which could be homemade — also cutting into smaller slices can help.

‘Sharing food with others is part of human culture, part of how we share ideas and build teams, perhaps just like many things at work maybe some boundaries could be helpful.’

He said it is concerning that a food-related behaviour has been ‘linked to tobacco’.  

‘This is an unhealthy view, as eating is not something that is done or not done, unlike smoking, and this approach to foods — even cakes — can lead to a dysfunctional relationship with food,’ Mr Mellor said.

Professor Jebb’s comments come as England is in the grips of an obesity crisis, with around two-thirds of over-16s overweight or obese and one in three 10 and 11-year-olds obese.

The epidemic is estimated to take up £6.1billion of the NHS budget every year due to illnesses and disease linked to people’s weight. The figure is set to rise to £9.7billion per year by 2050, as the nation becomes even fatter.

Being an unhealthy weight raises the risk of serious and life-threatening conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and strokes. 

Meanwhile, passive smoking increases the risk of developing the same health conditions as smokers, such as some cancers, heart disease and strokes.

The NHS says that even those who have never smoked see their risk of lung cancer increase by around a quarter if their partner smokes. 

How calorific really is a slice of cake? 
Cake   Calories per 100g Sugar (g) per 100g
Waitrose Star Cake   394 61
Waitrose Fiona Cairns Golden Sponge Happy Birthday Cake   397 60.4
The BAKERY at ASDA Vanilla Party Cake   410 59
The BAKERY at ASDA Celebration Fruit Cake   356 59
Tesco Stars Party Cake   389 55.4
The BAKERY at ASDA Millionaire’s Cake   453 52
The BAKERY at ASDA Sultana & Cherry Cake   352 49
ASDA Cookies & Cream Celebration Cake   460 48
Waitrose Genoa Cake   380 47.9
Tesco Fuzzy Caterpillar Cake   404 47.8
Waitrose Cecil Cake   432 47.2
M&S Colin The Caterpillar Cake   452 46.3
ASDA Extra Special Sea Salted Caramel Cake   450 46
The BAKERY at ASDA Caramelised Biscuit Cake   439 46
Cadbury Flake Celebration Cake   420 45.6
Waitrose White Chocolate & Raspberry Cake   434 45.2
The BAKERY at ASDA Chocolate Party Cake   440 45
Tesco Finest Trillionaire Cake   462 44.9
Waitrose S’mores Cake   433 44.6
Cadbury Crunchie Celebration Cake   440 44.1
The BAKERY at ASDA Letty the Caterpillar Cake   413 44
M&S Lemon & Blueberry Drizzle Cake   390 44
Sainsbury’s Cookie Dough Chocolate Chip Madeira Cake   463 43.4
Sainsbury’s Wiggles The Caterpillar Cake   421 43.2
Tesco Half & Half Cake   445 43
Aldi Cuthbert   427 43
Sainsbury’s Seriously White Chocolate Madeira Cake   435 42.7
Thorntons Sticky Toffee Celebration Cake   429 42.7
Cadbury Dairy Milk Caramel Layer Cake   430 42.6
Waitrose Millionaire Layer Cake   441 42.5
Waitrose Cherry Madeira Cake   362 42.3
Waitrose Neapolitan Celebration Cake   433 42.1
The BAKERY at ASDA Vanilla Party CakeThe BAKERY at ASDA Mega Brownie Cake   438 42
Sainsbury’s Lovett’s Madeira Cake   422 41.9
Waitrose Fruit Cake   443 41.6
Waitrose Caramelised Biscuit Cakeeach   442 41.5
Waitrose Sticky Toffee Cake   409 40.9
Tesco Small Chocolate Celeb Cake Each   443 40.5
Tesco Iced Coffee Cake   398 40.5
M&S White Chocolate & Strawberry Cake   418 40.1
The BAKERY at ASDA Chocolate Party Cake   422 40
ASDA Extra Special Lemon Drizzle Cake   388 40
Tesco Finest Victoria Sponge CakeTesco Chocolate Brownie Bar Cake   462 39.8
Waitrose Chocolate Checkerboard Party Cake   441 39.8
Tesco Slinky Caterpillar Cake   412 39
ASDA Iced Madeira Cake   387 39
M&S Chocolate Fudge Cake   399 38.6
Tesco Large Chocolate Celeb Cake   425 38.5
Tesco Large Chocolate Celeb Cake   425 38.5
Sainsbury’s Lemon Cake, Taste the Difference   390 38.4
Waitrose Loaded Chocolate Drip Cake   433 38.3
Sainsbury’s Rainbow Layer Cake, Taste the Difference   434 38.2
Sainsbury’s Genoa Cake   331 38.1
The BAKERY at ASDA Half & Half Cake   438 38
The BAKERY at ASDA Mega Madeira Party Cake   427 38
ASDA Extra Special Red Velvet Cake   419 38
M&S Country Fruit Cake   393 38
The BAKERY at ASDA Lemon Cake   390 38
ASDA Double Chocolate Loaf Cake   377 38
Waitrose coffee & walnut cake   403 37.9
Tesco Genoa Cake   340 37.8
Sainsbury’s Caramelised Biscuit Layer Cake, Taste the Difference   458 37.7
Mcvities Jamaica Ginger Cake Each   362 37.6
Sainsbury’s Triple Layer Chocolate Cake   434 37.4
M&S Naked Red Velvet Cake   428 37.4
Tesco Genoa Cake EachTesco Iced Madeira Cake   378 37.4
Waitrose No.1 Lemon & Lime Drizzle Cake   402 37.1
Waitrose Hand Finished Chocolate Cake   438 37
ASDA Extra Special Lemon Cake   431 37
Aldi Holly Lane Madeira Party Cake   416 37
Sainsbury’s Loaded Millionaire’s Cake, Taste the Difference   427 36.6
Waitrose Happy Birthday Cake   429 36.3
Sainsbury’s Iced Madeira Cake   368 36.1
Waitrose No. 1 Coffee & Caramel Cake   459 35.5
M&S Colombian Coffee and Walnut Cake   453 35.4
Sainsbury’s Chocolate Cake, Taste The Difference   424 35.3
Sainsbury’s Coffee Iced Madeira Cake   379 35.1
ASDA Extra Special Coffee and Walnut Cake   436 35
The BAKERY at ASDA Cherry Madeira Cake   374 35
ASDA Extra Special Apple & Blackcurrant Crumble Cake   362 35
Sainsbury’s Carrot Cake, Taste the Difference   393 34.6
M&S Red Velvet Cake   438 34.3
Sainsbury’s Strawberries & Clotted Cream, Taste the Difference   402 34.3
Tesco Chocolate Party Cake   427 34.2
Waitrose Lemon Drizzle Cake   371 34.2
Galaxy Indulgent Chocolate Cake   434 34
The BAKERY at ASDA Angel Cake   406 34
Sainsbury’s Lemon Iced Madeira Cake   395 34
Sainsbury’s Chocolate Party Cake   388 33.9
M&S Lemon Drizzle Cake   374 33.9
Waitrose No.1 Victoria Sponge   419 33.8
Sainsbury’s Large Seriously Chocolate Cake   443 33.7
Mr Kipling Manor House Cake   404 33.5
Tesco Lemon Iced Madeira Cake   419 33.1
Tesco Lemon Iced Madeira Cake   419 33.1
Maltesers Party Cake   452 33
Aldi Holly Lane Chocolate Party Cake   441 33
Sainsbury’s Colombian Coffee Cake, Taste the Difference   420 33
ASDA Extra Special Sticky Toffee Cake   387 33
Sainsbury’s Cherry Madeira Cake   355 32.4
Sainsbury’s Small Seriously Chocolate Cake   439 32.3
Waitrose Victoria sponge cake   410 32.3
ASDA Mega Chocolate Celebration Cake   418 32
The BAKERY at ASDA Chocolate Jumbo Swiss Roll   400 32
Aldi Holly Lane Angel Cake   379 32
Aldi Mrs McGregor’s Sultana Cake   369 32
M&S Lightly Spiced Carrot Cake   389 31.8
Waitrose No.1 Carrot & Passionfruit Cake   371 31.7
M&S All Butter Victoria Sandwich Cake   422 31.6
Sainsbury’s Madeira Cake    377 31.4
Sainsbury’s Victoria Sponge Cake, Taste the Difference    397  31.2 
Tesco Finest Victoria Sponge Cake   405 31
ASDA Extra Special Chocolate Fudge Cake   404 31
Tesco Ms Molly’s Lightly Fruited Cake   332 30.9
Tesco Coconut Sponge Cake Each   392 30.8
Sainsbury’s Red Velvet Cake, Taste the Difference   433 30.7
Waitrose No.1 Chocolate Indulgent Cake   411 30.6
M&S Extremely Chocolatey Party Cake   399 30.6
Sainsbury’s Strawberry Jam & Cream Victoria Sponge   358 30.5
M&S Extremely Chocolatey Birthday Cake   418 30.4
Aldi Holly Lane Lemon Loaf Cake   402 30
ASDA Extra Special Carrot Cake   381 30
Aldi Holly Lane Banana Loaf Cake   378 30
Aldi Mrs McGregor’s Cherry Cake   363 30
JUST ESSENTIALS by ASDA Fruit Cake   360 30
Sainsbury’s Lemon Loaf Cake   367 29.9
Bosh Luscious Lemon Cake   398 29.8
Waitrose Belgian chocolate cake   393 29.7
Sainsbury’s Banana Loaf Cake   376 29.7
Tesco Fresh Cream Strawberry Victoria Sponge   370 29.6
Mars Chocolate & Caramel Cake   415 29
Waitrose carrot cake   386 28.8
Waitrose Raspberry & Coconut Cake   373 28.1
The BAKERY at ASDA Madeira Cake   391 28
Waitrose Ginger Loaf Cake   390 27.7
ASDA Madeira Loaf Cake   379 27.7
Waitrose Delicious & Zingy Lemon Loaf Cake   397 27.2
Tesco Lemon Loaf Cake   395 27.2
Galaxy Triple Chocolate Cake   416 27
Galaxy Cake Triple Chocolate   416 27
Aldi Holly Lane Madeira Cake   380 27
Aldi Specially Selected Hand Finished Carrot Cake   379 27
M&S Strawberry Victoria Sponge Sandwich   366 27
Sainsbury’s Coconut & Raspberry Loaf Cake    381 26.7
Sainsbury’s Chocolate & Vanilla Marble Loaf Cake   400 26.5
The BAKERY at ASDA Walnut Cake   410 26
Aldi Holly Lane Walnut Cake   392 26
Waitrose Delicious & Sticky Banana Loaf Cake   336 25.9
Aldi Mrs McGregor’s Madeira Cake   381 25
Sainsbury’s Walnut Cake   386 24.5
Tesco Chocolate Cake   369 24.2
The BAKERY at ASDA Lemon Loaf Cake   422 24
The BAKERY at ASDA Banana Flavour Loaf Cake   424 23
Tesco Madeira Cake   381 23
Waitrose No.1 Spiced Pear & Apple Crumble Cake   318 22.6
Waitrose Golden & Buttery Madeira Loaf Cake   410 22.5
Aldi Mrs McGregor’s Ginger Cake   378 22
ASDA Baker’s Selection Fruit Loaf Cake   322 18
M&S Bramley Apple Victoria Sponge Sandwich   331 17.5

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