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Discipline Is Indigestable: Health Official Warns Against Workplace Cake, Compares It to Secondhand Smoke

By Alex Parker

Have you ever caught secondhand diabetes? It seems that may be a possibility, based on statements by a UK academic.

Per a piece in The Times, University of Oxford Professor Susan Jebb has a bone to pick with food — or those who support it being sweetly served at work.

In fact, Susan likens complimentary cake to cigarette smoke:

Bringing cake into the office should be seen as harmful to your colleagues in the same way as passive smoking, [Susan] has said.

And she’s no mere educator; Susan is “Britain’s top food watchdog” — chair of the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency (FSA).

In the past, it was thought people possessed autonomous will; things shoved into their mouths and mercilessly ground came courtesy of conscious choice. These days, we appear to have moved beyond such simplicity; just as every person is acting upon the world, the world is doing a number on them.

So cake brought into the office? Like smoke in our surroundings, we can’t help but breathe it in. Not everyone’s extraordinary:

Jebb, professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford and a member of The Times Health Commission, said it was not enough to rely on the “extraordinary efforts” of personal willpower needed to avoid overeating in a society that is constantly plying people with food.

“Speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the FSA,” Susan dropped science. Don’t think too highly of yourself:

“We all like to think we’re rational, intelligent, educated people who make informed choices the whole time [but] 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, okay, I have made a choice, but people were making a choice to go into a smoky pub.”…


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