Avoid taking cake into workplace, says food watchdog chief

Avoid taking cake into workplace, says food watchdog chief

A dental hygienist has welcomed the news that the chair of a UK food watchdog has slammed the widespread ‘cake culture’ of many British workplaces.

Professor Susan Jebb, chair of the Food Standards Agency, this week likened sweet treats in the workplace to passive smoking.

She suggested fostering a more ‘supportive environment’ by removing the temptation of unhealthy snacks.

Speaking in The Times, Professor Jebb also expressed frustration at the delay in the TV watershed for junk food advertising. She said more GPs should address weight concerns and offer dietary advice to patients.

Dental hygienist Tim Ives, who has researched the dental profession’s approach to limiting sugar, argues that dental professionals could do more to encourage healthier workplace environments.

He said: ‘Last week, I placed a poll in a dental hygiene and therapy forum asking if anyone worked in a sugar-free practice. Out of 167 responses, not one did. This is alarming.

‘The statistics for dental disease are getting worse with the amount of sugar consumption spiralling out of control. I believe the dental profession must lead by example.’

Tooth decay

According to the latest data, 27% of the adult population has untreated tooth decay on an average of two teeth.

Additionally, tooth decay is the leading reason for hospital admissions among five to nine-year-olds, with around one-in-four (23%) of five-year-olds having dental decay.

Tim added: ‘I have always had a “bee in my bonnet” about our profession failing to take this seriously enough. In 2021 and 2022, I undertook two research projects, both published in the Annual Clinical Journal of Dental Health.

‘In the first piece of research, I wanted to see how difficult dental hygienists and dental therapists would find it if they attempted to quit added sugar. Most failed, with many discovering they were addicted to sugar.

‘In the second piece of research, I created a “no-added-sugar tribe”, which had some interesting outcomes. I now have more than 200 dental hygienists and therapists looking for support to quit sugar.

‘Dental teams should have serious discussions about sugar addiction and create sugar-free zones in the workplace. What messages are we giving our patients when we advise them to reduce/quit sugar when our staff room is full of it?

‘Given the current status quo regarding disease levels and patient access to care, I believe it is time dental professionals took the lead on this.’

Dentistry’s top stories

Obesity epidemic

The Health Survey for England 2021 estimates that 25.9% of adults in England are obese, with 37.9% overweight but not obese.

The survey, published in December 2022, found that men are more likely than women to be overweight or obese (68.6% of men, 59% of women). People aged 45-74 are most likely to be overweight or obese.

The estimated annual cost of obesity is £58 billion.

Last year, the government postponed its anti-obesity measure of a watershed for TV adverts selling foods high in fat, salt and sugar. It will not come into force until 2025.

Last week, guidelines introduced in the US by the American Academy of Paediatrics advised that children with obesity should be treated early and that medication or surgery should be key considerations.

Follow Dentistry.co.uk on Instagram to keep up with all the latest dental news and trends.

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar