Why This Prue Leith Expression Has Been Getting Criticism

This article contains mentions of disordered eating and eating disorders.

Prue Leith has faced backlash over how she's been known to describe some of the more delectable bakes she tastes as a judge on the "The Great British Bake Off." According to Unilad, some of Leith's signature lines include "worth the calories" and "the most fattening bite you can imagine." While Leith's statements may be meant as compliments to the bakers, some have found her critiques to be triggering to those facing self-image challenges and those with a history of disordered eating.

The controversy started after Leith opened up to Channel 4 in the fall of 2021 about how she often skips meals to manage calories when working (via MyLondon), statements that in combination with criticism over her catchphrases evoked a response from the U.K. eating disorder prevention organization Beat. "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," said Tom Quinn, Beat's director of external affairs. Quinn also noted that 1.25 million people in the UK suffer from eating disorders (via Hello!).

Prue Leith says she didn't realize her words were harmful

Prue Leith discussed her potentially harmful comments on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs program, stating, "I don't know why I say it. It's just an expression of how much I love something ... They (Beat) 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. So perhaps I'll stop saying it," Leith said (via Hello!).

But some are saying Leith's words aren't enough. While Beat replied to Leith's comments with a tweet stating, "We are thankful to Prue for considering how language about food can impact people with eating disorders," some commenters on the post weren't as forgiving. "Whilst it's good that she's acknowledged the complaints, I think her comments – 'perhaps I'll stop' and 'they tell me i mustn't' are patronising and insincere – consequently still contributing to the stigma surrounding eating disorders," wrote Twitter user @katymarshall_.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).