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Prue Leith breaks silence on her controversial calorie comments on The Great British Bake Off

The judge says she may reconsider the language she uses when discussing contestant's bakes

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Eve Crosbie
Eve CrosbieTV & Film Writer
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Prue Leith has finally addressed the backlash she faced for calorie-related comments she made on The Great British Bake Off.

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The judge, 81, came under fire earlier this year after viewers of the Channel 4 show called her out on her "triggering" and "toxic" comments on whether or not different bakes were "worth the calories". Many criticised her on social media, saying that she takes the joy out of watching the show and could also be damaging for anyone with an eating disorder.

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And now, discussing the controversy on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, Prue admitted that she had no idea that her use of the catchphrase was so harmful and is considering changing the way she speaks about contestants' bakes.

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"I don't know why I say it. It's just an expression of how much I love something, 'Oh, this is worth every calorie', I'll say," she explained.

"Beat, they are a charity that tries to tackle eating disorders. They say that I mustn't say it because people then, who have an eating disorder feel guilty, they feel unhappy, and so they'll eat more," she continued, adding: "So perhaps I'll stop saying it."

gbbo pic© Photo: Channel 4

Prue appears on GBBO alongside Paul Hollywood, Matt Lucas and Noel Fielding

Back in October, several Twitter users shared their concerns about Prue's language and how it could contribute to diet culture. One wrote: "PLEASE could someone tell Prue that 'worth every calorie' is a harmful sentiment that she should really not be making into a catchphrase?" Her post has since had 23 likes from other viewers.

Another added: "I wish Prue would behave talking about how the bakes are 'worth the calories'. Your job is to eat treats, how on earth are you making it joyless!! It's making me sad #GBBO."

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Meanwhile, Beat's Director of External Affairs Tom Quinn told The Telegraph at the time: "Mentions of calories can be triggering to people with or vulnerable to an eating disorder."

He added: "We estimate that 1.25 million people in the UK currently have an eating disorder, but due to the stigma that still surrounds these serious mental illnesses, this number may be even higher. We would strongly encourage Channel 4 to be conscious about the way food and exercise is discussed, for instance not mentioning calories or specific weights, in order to protect their audience."

If you or someone you know has been affected by the programme or this article, contact Beat – the UK's leading eating disorder charity – via their helpline on 0808 801 0677 or their website.

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