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Study links potatoes, among other foods, to weight gain

 
 
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2011 10:42 am
June 23, 2011
Study links potatoes, among other foods, to weight gain
By Daniela Hernandez | Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Public Enemy No. 1 in America's battle of the bulge isn't cupcakes, soda or double bacon cheeseburgers. It's the simple potato, according to Harvard University researchers.

Daily consumption of an extra serving of spuds — french fried, sliced into crispy chips, mashed with butter and garlic, or simply boiled or baked — was found to cause more weight gain than downing an additional 12-ounce can of a sugary drink or taking an extra helping of red or processed meats.

Altogether, after tracking the good and bad diet and lifestyle choices of more than 120,000 health professionals from around the country for at least 12 years, the research team calculated that participants gained an average of 0.8 pound a year, close to the U.S. average, according to a report published in Thursday's edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

It may not sound like much, but as the years go by "it becomes like compounded interest," adding up to 16 pounds over 20 years, said Dr. Jeffrey Schwimmer, director of the weight and wellness program at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego, who wasn't involved in the study.

Potatoes were once hailed as history's most important vegetable, and the Incas — whose ancestors are credited with domesticating spuds in South America — worshiped a potato god. Potatoes are certified as a "heart healthy" food by the American Heart Association. And just three years ago, the United Nations declared 2008 the International Year of the Potato, praising the tuber for being a good source of vitamin C, several B vitamins, and minerals including iron, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.

But when the team from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston examined the potato's role in the modern diet, they found that people who ate an extra serving of french fries every day gained an average of 3.4 pounds over a four-year period. On top of that, those who munched on an extra serving of potato chips daily gained an average of 1.7 pounds every four years. Overall, an extra serving of potatoes prepared in any non-chip form was found to contribute an average of 1.3 pounds to total weight over four years.

The typical American consumes 117 pounds of potatoes each year, including 41 pounds in the form of previously frozen french fries, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Fresh" spuds account for only 28 percent of the total, the USDA says.

The problem, said study co-author Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, is that "we don't eat potatoes raw, so it's easier (for the body) to transform the starch to glucose."

Since spuds prompt a quick spike in blood sugar levels, they cause the pancreas to go into overdrive trying to bring levels back down to normal. As blood sugar spirals down, people usually experience hunger, which leads to snacking. Over many years, this cycle can result in drastic weight gain and a fatigued pancreas, possibly contributing to the development of type 2 diabetes.

Making matters worse, potatoes pack a lot of calories into a relatively small package, said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, the study's lead author. A large baked potato — without any fixings — will set you back about 278 calories, and a serving of french fries contains between 500 and 600 calories. That makes the 140 calories in a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola or the 150 calories in a Pepsi look puny.

But Willett said that sugary beverages are hazardous to the waistline because so many people often drink so many of them.

Frank Muir, president of the Idaho Potato Commission, said that if the researchers wanted to figure out what was behind the obesity crisis, they should have examined "onion rings, deep-fried pickles or any other food that is fried." Potatoes "stand up very well in terms of nutritional value per dollar input into the soil," he said, and are "one of the most nutritional foods you can eat."

The researchers did find other culprits. For each additional sugary soft drink consumed per day, participants in the study gained an average of 1 pound over four years. Extra servings of red meats and processed meats did only slightly less damage.

Consuming an extra alcoholic drink translated into close to half a pound more on the scale every four years. Even 100 percent fruit juice took some blame — drinking an additional glass each day was tied with nearly one-third of a pound in weight gain over the same period.

Some foods were linked to weight loss. For instance, eating an additional daily serving of fruit was associated with half a pound of weight loss over four years, and an extra daily serving of nuts was slightly better. An extra helping of vegetables each day added up to nearly one-quarter of a pound of weight loss every four years.

People who ate these foods regularly may have been less likely to consume higher calorie goodies, thus decreasing their total caloric intake, the researchers said.

Behavior mattered too. Every extra hour spent watching television each day correlated with half a pound of weight gain over four years. Conversely, increasing one's level of daily physical activity was linked with almost two pounds of weight loss over four years, though there was no link between absolute exercise levels and weight.

Sleeping too little or too much was also associated with weight gain. And compared with people who never smoked, onetime smokers who quit gained about a pound each year. In contrast, those who continued smoking were less likely to gain weight, which could be related to nicotine's suppressive effects on appetite.

The only finding the study authors said was surprising was that people tended to gain one fewer pound every four years if they ate an extra daily serving of yogurt. Though they are unclear about why this occurs, they posit that changes in gut bacteria may be responsible.

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/06/23/116355/study-links-potatoes-among-other.html#ixzz1Q7O5dHJs
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2011 05:35 pm
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
Who knew?
0 Replies
 
Lustig Andrei
 
  2  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2011 06:43 pm
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
What getrs my goat is that these researchers actually get Federal grants to write such horse-****. Appalling.

[BTW, love that "among other foods" disclaimer in the headline.}
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 10:38 am
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
Not surprising - when a friend of mine needed to gain weight in pregnancy - the doctor suggested eating potatoes.
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 10:56 am
@Linkat,
I think potatoes are a valuable food item, with a fair amount of nutrient ccontent.

I think what is related to undesirable weight gain is overeating potatoes in general, and overeating snack food potatoes in particular.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potato
Scroll to the end for the bits about nutrition.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 11:22 am
@ossobuco,
I agree - pototoes are good for you.

Most likely why the doctor suggested pototes - for the weight gain and nutritional value. What I've experienced (at least from food suggestion from doctors) - is to avoid empty calories - those food items without much nutritional value.
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  2  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 11:24 am
Quote:
after tracking the good and bad diet and lifestyle choices of more than 120,000 health professionals from around the country


Why these specific individuals? Do they represent the average family? How about looking at the single , working class mother with 4 kids to feed? Potatoes are cheap and an excellent source of carbohydrate and fiber. how do these folks expect the working class to feed their families when food is so expensive?

Nothing wrong with potatoes if eaten with other solid foods.
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  2  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 11:29 am
funny, i never think of chips or fries as potatoes, i think of them as junk that obviously makes me fat (not that i don't eat them)

i eat potatoes about 2 times a week (usually boiled, tossed with a bit of butter and some herb or other, or wedge oven fries)
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 11:31 am
If potatoes are bad for you, is rice OK?
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 01:48 pm
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
I'm also assuming just the old ordinary spud - not sweet potatoes - right? Are sweet potatoes as high in calories/fat? I know sweet potatoes are chalk full of crap that is good for the body.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 01:49 pm
The NJM can kiss my rosy red ass . . . they ain't enough potatoes in the world to keep me happy . . .
Walter Hinteler
 
  2  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 01:57 pm
@Setanta,
In defense of the potatoe after the Harvard study
Quote:
:[...]Maybe we should stop blaming potatoes for our problems.

After all, this country was built on potatoes. Or maybe I was missing the point of “Roots.”

These tubers are loyal and hardworking. They are native to this hemisphere. And we turn on them for yogurt?

Just try not eating them. The Irish did that once, and they were forced to evacuate the country.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 02:08 pm
That's the spirit!
0 Replies
 
shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 02:17 pm
eating potato chips is not eating a 'potato', it is eating deep fried chemicals. so what if they are pasted to a paper thin piece of a potato. It isnt the potato its what is on it..

french fries? Again, those are not food.

this article is not ABOUT food, its about junk. And duh.. junk is horrible for your health . Do we really need another article to tell us that? Laughing
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 02:37 pm
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
Quote:
A large baked potato — without any fixings — will set you back about 278 calories


Wow! I didn't know this. They do say "large," but still. I'd have guessed maybe 100-150 calories.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 03:02 pm
So. Now look what you've all done, I'm hungry.

I have had one remaining small yukon gold type potato sitting in my fridge waiting for salvation since I made my last batch of potatoes Here, which was in early May.
I'm very thin slicing it with the skin left on, tossing the slices with olive oil, salt, pepper, dried basil, chile pepper, and some minced garlic, and setting them to bake. Yay, potatoes.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 03:15 pm
Whose calling me fat!

http://www.almightydad.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/potato_23.gif
0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  2  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 08:31 pm
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
http://nutrition.about.com/od/grainsandcereals/qt/healthypotato.htm


Potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables because they are nutritious, easy to prepare, and very versatile. They're rich in complex carbohydrates that can supply energy, but not all that high in calories. One medium-sized potato (about 3 inches in diameter) has about 150 calories. That same potato has about 5 grams of fiber, which is important for a healthy digestive tract. They're also a healthy source of vitamins and minerals.
Potatoes contain more potassium than any other fresh vegetable in the produce department - even more than bananas. One potato has almost 900 milligrams, which is about 20% of what you need every day. Potassium is important for body growth and cell maintenance. It's also necessary for nervous function and for normal muscle contraction - including the heart muscle. Potassium is also an electrolyte that helps to balance the fluids in your body, which is important for healthy blood pressure.

Potatoes also contain substantial amounts of vitamins C and B6, which are vital for blood clotting, wound healing, a strong immune system, normal nervous system function and for converting the food you eat to energy. There's also a substance called kukoamine found in potatoes that may help to lower blood pressure, although more research is necessary to know for sure.

Preparing Potatoes
Potatoes are easy to cook. You can boil them or bake them, sauté or roast them with a little olive oil, or use them in soups or stews. Potatoes can also be mashed with a little non-fat milk, or used in a potato salad.

Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Jun, 2011 05:00 pm
@BillRM,
Totally agree.

I often wonder how in hell my ancestors in Europe got along without 'em before the 1500s when they began to be brought back from the New World and became very popular in places like Germany and Poland, long before they began to be grown in Eire.
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  2  
Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2011 07:44 am

I like potatoes.
 

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