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Welcome from the editor: passive eating

3 min read
woman eating donut against pink background

Welcome and thank you for joining me this weekend.

This week you’d have to have live under a rock with no connection to the outside world whatsoever to miss Chair of the Food Standards Agency Susan Jebb’s comments reported in The Times, likening taking cake to the office to passive smoking.

Ms Jebb was largely mocked on social media, but whilst her analogy was flawed I think she does have a point, to a degree.

Of course taking cake into the office is not comparable to passive smoking. The main difference between the two is that passive smoking can have a detrimental effect on the health of non smokers, whilst cake eating does not affect those shunning the sweet treat.

Susan Jebb brings up the concept of self discipline and control, or rather, lack thereof, saying “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.” This I have an issue with. We cannot force others to do or not do something, simply because we don’t have willpower. It’s a dangerous notion, however Jebb does have a point, in particular seeing that in this country, and in many others, we have a serious obesity problem that puts a huge strain on the already overwhelmed NHS.

Should we really be consuming unhealthy foods at work as a means to celebrate with our colleagues? Is a sugar slump really what we want in the middle of a working day? Perhaps it’s time to revaluate how certain foods are placed in our society, the meaning we give to them, and question if we should really regularly eat something that’s unhealthy as a form of celebration.

Furthermore, how easy is it to hold on to our willpower when we are constantly bombarded with food advertising and marketing? Are we suffering from a case of ‘passive eating’?

Marketing, advertising and social media are powerful and cunning in their promotion of food. But how do they get our attention? Read about it in this week’s feature TikTok trolley dash: how food companies are cashing in on the social media app.

Climate change is one of the most talked about topics of our era. We are told to eliminate or at least cut down on meat and other animal products to stop further damage to the environment but Is plant-based always better for you – and the planet? Dr Chris Bryant, Research Associate, at the University of Bath and Director of Bryant Research, joins the Food Matters Live podcast to shed light on the matter.

Talking of environmental urgency, new research by the University of Sheffield has discovered that Genetically modified rice could tackle food shortages caused by climate change. Now, let’s keep an eye on those sea levels too whilst we are at it.

Plant-based milk is hugely popular, but would you try animal- or human-derived cultured milk? Read all about it in Cell-based dairy and human breast milk: tackling sustainability and availability. And don’t miss Eating well with diabetes: delicious, healthy foods and the products to avoid.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend,



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