What an honour and what an experience!
As a graduate of the University of Chester I was invited to speak about the research into office cake culture I conducted as part of my MSc in Obesity & Weight Management. The event’s official theme was ‘Ideas connected’ and talks covered a range of topics including tackling plastic overuse, theatre as a tool in deradicalisation and ‘inventapreneurism’. But a common theme was that we need to start conversations about difficult situations to help people invest in the solutions.
My talk aimed to help people understand that obesity is more complicated than eating too much and moving too little, and examined the roles of our environment, social influencing and our neurophysiology in causing obesity. The main messages were:
1. By subtly changing the environments we are in control of, we can make it easier for ourselves to make healthy choices more often, without having to rely on willpower. By making our workplaces less obesogenic we could all make a significant improvement to public health in the UK.
2. We need to start a conversation with colleagues about how often we really want office cake. 95% of office workers thought the ideal frequency for office cake was once a week or less but this is less than the current availability in most workplaces. People don’t find it easy to speak up when colleagues are apparently enjoying cake (even if they don’t really want it)
3. Discuss with colleagues how we might get the benefits of getting together socially at work, without cake.
4. By starting a conversation about something specific like office cake, we can all contribute to tackling the wider obesity problem.
The final call to action was for employers, employees, students and group members to start a conversation about office cake. After all, we have nothing to lose but the weight, and we all have our health to gain.
I will update this blog with a link to the talk on youtube when it is available.