Preliminary research presented recently at The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Conference in San Diego demonstrates that habitual consumption of white potatoes (baked, boiled and mashed) is not associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes or levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of systemic inflammation once potential confounding factors are controlled for (e.g., age, gender, and education). Previous studies examining the association between potato consumption and disease states have failed to consider demographic factors that could potentially confound the relationships such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, and education. "One of the purposes of this study was that we hypothesized demographic factors – particularly socioeconomic status – might be associated with both potato consumption and the prevalence of obesity and diabetes. Therefore we controlled for these factors," said lead researcher Adam Drewnowski, PhD, Professor of Epidemiology and Director of the Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Washington.

Dr. Drewnowski and colleagues examined dietary intake and health data in a representative sample of 5,800 adults using two cycles (2003-2004 and 2005-2006) of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). After controlling for demographic variables, the researchers found no association between the frequency of potato consumption and obesity, diabetes or C-reactive protein.

Dr. Drewnowski and colleagues further analyzed the NHANES survey data to look at different potato preparations in Americans` diet including French fries, home fries, tater tots, chips, baked, mashed, boiled and salad. They found that although Americans may eat fried potatoes at restaurants, relatively few Americans were preparing fried potatoes at home: only 26% of fried potato servings were sourced from the grocery store.

NOTE: The full report on this research has not yet been published, but rest assured that will update you as soon as the full report becomes available.

In the interim, what follows is an abstract of the pending full report, provided to DiabetesCare,net by the United States Potato Board:

No association between white potatoes, (baked, boiled, or mashed) and systemic inflammation, obesity, or type II diabetes: Analysis of 2003-2006 NHANES surveys.

Adam Drewnowski1, Colin Rehm1, Katherine A. Beals 2. 1 Center for Public Health Nutrition, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-3410. 2 Division of Nutrition, University of Utah, Salt Lake City UT 84112.
Research examining the association between disease states and intakes of specific foods often does not control for potential confounding lifestyle variables. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the association between the consumption of white potatoes (baked, boiled or mashed) and health outcomes while controlling for covariates (e.g., age, gender, race, education, diet quality and physical activity) in a representative sample of 5,800 US adults. Dietary intake and health data were obtained from the 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Consumption of potatoes and other foods was obtained from a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Outcomes measured included obesity, self-reported diabetes and serum C-reactive protein (CRP). Survey-weighted generalized linear models were used to assess the association between white potato consumption, obesity and diabetes. Survey-weighted linear regression models were used for CRP. Among adults, 15% consumed potatoes ≥3 times/week and 30% consumed them 1-2 times/week. After adjusting for the aforementioned covariates, adults consuming potatoes ≥3 times/week had a non-significant 10% increased likelihood of being obese (prevalence ratio [PR] 1.10, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.93-1.31) compared to individuals rarely consuming potatoes. There was a non-significant negative association between potato consumption and self-reported diabetes (PR 0.86, 95% CI 0.57-1.3) and there was no association between potato consumption and CRP. These data indicate there there was no evidence that consumption of baked, boiled or mashed white potatoes increased the likelihood of being obese or having diabetes. The primary limitations of this study were the cross-sectional design and the lack of data on portion sizes from the FFQ. Partial funding for this project was provided by the US Potato Board.

Source: United States Potato Board Press Release