Cake in the workplace - a health hazard?

It's a commonly heard phrase in the Kiwi workplace: "Come and grab some cake!"

A mainstay on birthdays, anniversaries and other causes for celebration - the shared consumption between workmates of baked sweat treats is as Kiwi as pavlova itself.

But is it doing us more harm than we thought?

In the UK, cake-eating has apparently become so entrenched in the workplace, that leading dentists from the Royal College of Surgeons want the practice banned as part of people's New Year's resolutions.

The Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) claim people in the UK now consume most of their sugar at work, leading to increased risk of tooth decay and obesity.

Confectionary was the fastest-growing food category in UK supermarkets last Christmas, as shoppers spent almost $400 million on cakes and sugary treats in just two weeks.

So is cake culture a health problem in New Zealand?

Warren Lindberg, CEO of the Public Health Association of New Zealand, told Newshub that like the rest of the country his office is no stranger to a bit of cake culture.

"We should still allow ourselves to have treats, otherwise food gets boring. We like the odd cake in our office, but when we regularly have a morning tea we'll have it with something reasonably healthy.

"You can quite easily make your morning snack around fruit and vegetables."

He also claimed sugar consumption among Kiwi children was a far more serious problem than workplace sugar consumption.

"We're bringing up children on sugar-sweetened drinks, cakes and sweets, things that should be treats, but they've become every day and every event is celebrated with lashings of unhealthy food."

But Mr Lindberg said the workplace is a great environment for changing bad habits.

"A bit of mutual reinforcement helps, so that's one of things that office food culture can do. You can say - let's look at what else we can do other than cakes."

But should doctors be telling us how to eat at work?

"It can be seen as patronising," says Mr Lindberg.

"It's unfortunate that doctors, dieticians and nutritionists are all telling us what to eat and the result of that could well be that we'll dismiss the lot of them."

Here at Newshub there are at least one or two slices of cake up for grabs each week, so I asked our resident baking specialist if she is concerned about having too much cake at work.

Shannon Redstall, who regularly presents the Newshub digital team with her beautifully baked sweet treats, says a birthday is a day that needs to be celebrated.

"Cakes should be a special treat so it's fine that it stays that way," Ms Redstall said.

So enjoy your cake at work next week, or eat some fruit and vegetables instead. Or have your cake, and eat that too.