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French Fries set off a Campaign for Healthy Eating

July 18, 2011

French fries have long been associated with weight gain.  Today, we are not only blaming french fries, but also simply potatoes.  Studies are attacking baked, boiled, chips, and any product from potatoes as a weight gain.  While potatoes may not be the healthiest of vegetables we cannot take it away, instead we can minimize our intake of it.

There are two separate attacks on potatoes currently happening.  This first is from a study that recently came out in the New England Journal of Medicine that shows that french fries are attributed to long-term weight gain, and that they add more pounds than sweets do.  The second attack comes from the US Department of Agriculture, which is proposing to limit the amount of starchy vegetables served at school lunches.

In a study done by Harvard Medical School it shows that on average over 12 years there was a 1.69 pound weight gain for every four years if one increases their daily intake of potato chips.  There is a .57-pound increase for increasing one’s daily intake of boiled, baked, or mashed potatoes.  Lastly, there was a 3.35-pound weight increase every four years for those increased their daily serving of french fries.  This does show that french fries cause the most weight gain, but each potato-based food does as well.  Harvard did a similar study with sweets and meats and found similar results if you increase your intake too much of any food you will gain weight.  The key is a balanced diet.

Potatoes do hold some nutritional value, but when deep-fried and served with condiments all nutritional value is taken away.  The reason potatoes are an easy food to gain weight form is because potatoes prompt a quick increase in blood sugar levels, which causes the pancreas to work to normalize the levels.  As blood sugar levels come back down to normal, people experience hunger, which leads to snacking, which leads to weight gain.

The other side to this attack is coming from restaurants and happy customers.  Polish restaurants love to serve potatoes and customers go there just to eat potatoes.  Latikas, roasted potatoes and dumplings are all popularly ordered foods.   Super-markets are also still selling potatoes at the same rate as before.  Today we are able to pack in other nutrients and vitamins to potatoes to make them more appealing to some.

The USDA has made a new proposal due to start in Fall 2012 to require one-half cup of fruit and three-quarters to one cup of vegetables to be served with lunch.  It is easy to eat starchy vegetables the challenge, is to eat leafy green vegetables.  Once a week school must serve salad.  They are also limiting products such as tater tots to be served only once a week.

Changing out own diets and our children diets is going to take time.  If we try to implement similar eating habits across all areas of our lives than it should be easier.  Encourage healthy eating at home, and outside of the house!

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