It’s the feel-good hit show that’s watched by up to six million viewers every week.
But The Great British Bake off should kick off each episode with an obesity warning, an expert has said.
Steve Miller, a weight-loss guru, said Channel 4 needs to hammer it home that the sugar-laden foods they put on screens can ‘make us fat’.
Seeing such tantalising cakes can make fans go ‘off the rails’ if they aren’t careful, an obesity charity warned.
But critics rubbished the claims and said it’s clear the show represents cake as a one-off treat, and demonising foods is unnecessary.
The controversial comments come amid an obesity epidemic in the UK, with two thirds of adults are either overweight or obese.
Content on TV has been shown to affect food choices, with studies providing evidence food advertising may drive children to eat more junk food.
Prue Leith’s Great British Bake Off should come with a warning about obesity, an expert says
Weight-loss guru Steve Miller said Channel 4 shouldn’t tread on eggshells when it comes to addressing obesity and should informally remind viewers of the risks of too much cake
Mr Miller, who gives online weight loss consultations from his home in Solihull, told MailOnline: ‘I think we should have a warning during the show.
‘Or maybe the presenters can let us know informally that eating too much cake can make us fat.
‘They shouldn’t be afraid of saying that. We’re treading on eggshells when it comes to addressing obesity.
‘Let’s keep ourselves consciously alert of eating too much sugar – which has been argued to be the “new cocaine” because it’s so addictive.’
Mr Miller added: ‘The nation needs to know if you intake too much sugar you’re at risk of cancer and heart disease.
‘I’m not a snowflake but a hailstone. I’m saying let’s not bury our head in the Victoria sponge.’
It’s not the first time Mr Miller has slammed GBBO – he controversially said last year the programme should be banned entirely.
Viewers were left outraged by his remarks, which he now concedes may have been ‘over the top’.
Tam Fry, chair of the National Obesity Forum, said GBBO is inevitably watched by people with their mouths wide open.
He said: ‘People are glued to a programme that exists on sugar and sweet things in abundance.
Tam Fry, chair of the National Obesity Forum, said GBBO is inevitably watched by people with their mouths wide open. Pictured, a cake on the show
Seeing such cakes on TV can make viewers go ‘off the rails’ if they aren’t careful, Mr Fry said
Millions tune into the show to watch Prue and Paul Hollywood judge cakes
‘If they then make that food and eat it voraciously and don’t exercise then inevitable weight gain will follow.
‘You have to be sensible when watching programmes like this to not get swamped by the lusciousness then go off the rails.’
OBESITY ‘IS THE NEW SMOKING AND WILL SEND CANCER RATES ROCKETING’
NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, has said he expects obesity-related cancer cases to double by 2035 because so many people are fat.
In 2015 there were 22,800 cancer diagnoses linked to the patient’s weight and he expects this to rocket to 40,800 in just 16 years’ time.
‘While cancer survival is at a record high, many people don’t yet realise that obesity causes cancer,’ Mr Stevens warned in May.
‘On current trends, by 2030 we could see 100 new patients every day being diagnosed with obesity-related cancer.
‘So obesity is the new smoking, and if we continue to pile on the pounds, we’re heading for thousands more avoidable cancer deaths every year.’
Some 64 per cent of adults in the UK are overweight or obese, alongside almost a third of children.
As well as a raised risk of cancer, being fat also makes people more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease, joint problems or have a stroke.
Harvard University expert Dr Jennifer Ligibel said: ‘Obesity is now one of the greatest challenges facing the world.
‘The US has higher levels of obesity but the UK is catching up. It is very troubling.
‘We are making major advances in cancer therapies and treatment, but the risk is that obesity could undercut all of this.’
Although Mr Fry said the show may tempt people to eat cake, to suggest changing it would be too extreme.
He said: ‘One series is not going to make a difference to the obesity problem. However, over a course of time, they have done many series which may well have effect.
‘But the answer to the obesity problem is far more wide ranging.’
Professor Jane Ogden, a psychologist based at the University of Surrey, said demonising food only makes people rebel and crave it even more.
‘The healthiest relationship we can have with food is not to see it simplistically as good or bad,’ she said.
‘Everything is about having most food in modesty. They aren’t saying have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
‘They are saying let’s do it properly and make it ourselves. It’s putting cake in its rightful place in our diet, as a special treat.’
Professor Odgen said GBBO may even inspire people to get into the kitchen and celebrate learning new skills.
She added: ‘Regardless of what’s on the TV, TV changes how we eat because we can eat more mindlessly.
‘TV adverts make us want to buy the foods. And there is evidence of this in children.’
Exposure to junk food on television has been linked to weight gain in children through advertising.
It can cause children to eat straight after seeing an advert and alter their food preferences, a study by Cancer Research found last year.
The charity said that watching one extra junk food advertisement a week beyond the average of six leads to children eating an additional 350 calories a week – the equivalent of two packets of crisps.
That would amount to 18,000 calories a year, which is was estimated to equate to around 70 Mars bars or 60 cheeseburgers. It could amount to a LBS 5lb weight gain annually.
But the Government disputed the claims because their own research found a blanket ban on all junk food adverts on TV – which Cancer Research urged – would not have any noticeable effect on children’s health.